It is often said that we live in a pluralistic society here in America. It is obvious that there is a great deal of racial diversity, economic diversity, and educational diversity as well as other kinds of differences contributing to the sense of pluralism.
Perhaps the greatest contributor to this pluralism lies with our political philosophies. Although there have been many changes over the decades, currently the two major ideological divides exist between the Democrats and the Republicans. The divisions were not always as great as they are today, but Democrats generally prefer a society in which the government takes a much larger role in order to ensure equality for all citizens.
Whereas Republicans generally prefer a society where self-reliance and hard work are the cornerstones of prosperity. Obviously, there are many other elements that contribute to the characteristics of each party.
As long as both parties are more interested in the well-being of the nation then they are in the well-being of their respective parties, the differences can be resolved, and peace can be established.
Unfortunately, there are many for whom positions of power and party dominance are preeminent, and the well-being of their fellow Americans is an afterthought. This is a formula for disaster in a diverse society that can be averted by strong, principled leadership.
Good leaders recognize that they are responsible for all of the people and not just the people who agree with them. Such leaders make every attempt to understand those with different ideas, and they try to craft solutions through a multitude of counselors with different ideas that will be satisfactory to the vast majority of the populace. Such leaders recognize that the “my way or the highway” tactic only creates resentment and deepening opposition in a pluralistic society.
The founders of our nation were very cognizant of the fact that many of the new immigrants had very different ideas about the way they were going to conduct their lives and that these people all had different belief systems. Many of them came to America because they wanted to be able to live their lives according to their beliefs without interference.
The concept of “live and let live” became a vital part of the American fabric. The freedom to conduct one’s life as one pleases as long as they are not interfering with the rights of others is indeed precious.
Unfortunately many people throughout the world do not enjoy such privileges and must constantly seek permission of others when going about their daily activities of living. Overreaching by governing authorities is a historical commonality shared by many societies, which our founders hoped to avoid.
Leaders who attempt to provide solutions that work for everyone understand the concept of strength through unity. It was this understanding that provided the impetus for the formation of the “United” States of America.
Our founders were willing to give up power in their respective states in order to create a more perfect union that would be capable of defending itself against outside forces while enhancing its economic position in the world.
Perhaps the best way to resolve the deeply divisive ideological conflicts threatening to destroy our nation is to engage in civil discussion as opposed to getting into our respective corners and hurling insults at each other. I wonder why it is so easy for us to give this advice to our children, while we the adults try to savage each other.
Admittedly the gigantic issue that lies before us is chock full of emotion. Namely, are we going to be a nation that is “of, for, and by the people” or a nation that is “of, for, and by the government”?
Knowing that the coming election will be decisive in terms of determining the direction of our nation in the future, many people recognize that the stakes are much higher than they are normally during an election, which makes them willing to wager all of their political chips and burn all of their bridges for the sake of winning.
Without question, America is at a crossroads. Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, clearly states that our rights emanate from our Creator, yet many in our society think that those who believe that we were created by God are feeble-minded.
Our Constitution reminds us that we have the right to assemble in peaceful protest, yet many today feel that they have the right to interfere with the free speech of those with whom they disagree.
We the people have been manipulated by special interest groups to believe that we are each other enemies if we have disagreements. The truth is we can strengthen ourselves if we are willing to communicate openly and honestly while searching for a resolution to our conflicts.
I think in most cases we will find that we have much more that binds us together then separates us.
Dr. Ben Carson is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and has been awarded more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations. He has authored more than 100 neurosurgical publications and has written five best-selling books, including "America the Beautiful." For more on Dr. Carson, Click Here Now.
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