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Bridging the Chasm That Divides Us

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/10/bridging-chasm-divides-us


This article sinks to unbelievable pretenses of ignorance with questions like this one:

Exactly when did believing different things become an insurmountable barrier? And when did holding the same viewpoint become a prerequisite to a relationship?

Exactly when?” is way too cute and ahistorical. The specter of white-supremacist heteropatriarchy haunts US America’s polity like no other – how can we possibly overcome our social diseases if we can’t even name them? We’ve all learned, since George Floyd was crushed to death, there’s a problem here. Those who refuse to see, to name the problem consuming us are engaging in offensive, time-wasting denial. We don’t reach across the aisle to haters, to people who think some people are better than others. First of all, just to get started, we all have to stand on the same level field.

Yes Magazine pablum like this is so glaringly inappropriate to revolutionary times, imho. How do we reach across the aisle to domineering fascists who want Assata Shakur extradited and executed? You’ll never find any common ground between lovers and haters. (From Assata’s autobiography):

The Upper West Side, as the neightborhood was called, was supposed to be a “liberal” stronghold. I have never really understood exactly what a “liberal” is, though, since I have heard “liberals” express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as i can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist, racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. As far as I’m concerned, “liberal” is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle-class people can live high on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schoold, and reap the benefits of their white skin privileges, then they are “liberals.” But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you’re talking to Adolf Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges.


“The same religion” Kinney refers to was long ago identified as cult behavior wherein the cult leader is always right, no explanation needed, and cult members’ primary mission is to defend the cult and its leader, no questions asked.

Recalling Lord Tennyson’s 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade “theirs is not to reason why, theirs is but to do and die” clearly recognized cult behavior that subsequently was associated with military, organized religion and other cults.

More than a century later the Stockholm Syndrome further explained cult behavior, so Kinney should not be surprised at the response she received from her old friend turned T-cult member.


Ain’t that the truth! I can’t believe how totally wrong the author is! I’ve never read anything more wrong in all my life!


I had a little hope for this article based on the title. It evaporated when she brought up Russia. Even American expats fall for that bs?


“And can we understand it is possible for someone who holds beliefs diametrically opposed to our own to be just as well-meaning, earnest, and desirous of good for the world as we are?”

So people who have asserted that all black people, as well as all white people who don’t support Trump should be murdered are actually well-meaning and desirous of good in the world? Hmm.

Back in the aftermath of the Charlottesville chaos we saw a lot of articles like this. I always wondered why these articles, which are obviously targeting progressive, generally peace-loving audiences, are criticizing us because we sow division and aren’t working hard enough to empathize with Nazis and the KKK. Right–they’re murdering people and starting a race war, but we’re the ones who need to change because we aren’t empathetic enough. And what do you think would happen if we became more empathetic? I suppose it would be easier for them to commit their acts of violence.


(My apologies - I meant this to be a reply to raydelcamino’s comment)

Given how long both of our major political party establishments have been assiduously fostering divisive cult behavior (with enthusiastic assistance from the mainstream media, which directly profits from the circus) it’s no wonder that well over 90% of the American voting public have become easily manipulated sheep, even though many of them aren’t very happy sheep. The idea that external influences like Russia, or perhaps Martians, have any discernible effect upon this is ludicrous: at worst they’re having a bit of fun at our expense and/or satisfying their curiosity about the behavior of human rats in the kind of maze we have chosen to inhabit.

It’s supremely ironic that after preaching the virtues of understanding opposing points of view the author closes with the assertion

Let us do what is un-American and value the collective over our individual egos. It is the only way to take a step towards the dividing line that is tearing us apart.

as the ONLY way to begin to approach possible consensus. Far better to have said that first learning to present matters in a way that makes sense to the person you’re addressing is the necessary first step to achieving more substantive discussion of specifics, after which one may be able to move on carefully to more philosophical discussion (e.g., collectivism vs. individualism).

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In defense of this author, and after reading the replies, I just want to say that the “ideal” would be that all of human kind could let go of ego and fear and “love” one another.

I know. Fat chance of that happening, right?

It takes ALL of us, that is BOTH sides… to change the way we think. To allow love to dictate our life, we must let go of ALL ideology and simply focus on acceptance of one another. The Golden Rule comes to mind.

That means we de-politicize all human interaction. Yes, I would love to see this happen. Will it in our lifetime? It may take an extreme catastrophic event to bring us all together of one mind, and it may have to be AFTER many of the more rabid of us are already gone.

The Golden Rule is by far the most difficult rule to follow: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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I understand what the author is trying to say, but the article needs a rewrite with sharp focus on the main theme:

American society is based on an “us over them” winner-take-all mentality that is openly hostile to workers unions, group cooperation, unity and community.

These things have been labelled as weak and un-american - by whom? Since when? Why? How do we change this?


Seriously. There is a thinking and judgment error in this culture, and the sentence you quote is an excellent example of it.

When white supremacy is the “belief,” then the people holding such a belief cannot be “just as well-meaning, earnest, and desirous of good for the world as we are”.

There is an elevation step the author takes, where she elevates the specific to the generic, and judges the generic idea of an act rather than the specifics of the act, like the wealth disparity that such supremacy causes.

This is why I often say that this culture doesn’t live in the real world, it lives in its ideas about the world. The pattern is to look at everything and immediately elevate the subject to its most general, abstract level possible, a cosmic level that includes all possibilities, ignoring the plain and visible in front of us.

It’s crazy, and bad philosophy.

  • over 2/3 of Americans want socialized health care
  • over 2/3 of Americans want a Green New Deal
  • over 2/3 of Americans want tuition free Higher Education
  • around 50% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency payment
  • etc. etc.

Real chasm is not between Americans but between the multimillionaire political class of both parties and the Americans they pretend to serve. Hope this author will follow up with an article on how to bridge that gap.


Perhaps the splintering of the country is the ONLY way to rebuild it.
Obama’s hope of unity failed as is Pelosi’s, to whatever degree hers is real.
I think Biden will give it a real try, but how much resistance is there from the right? The right seems to thrive on division.

George Floyd was very respectful to Derek Chauvin. But Chauvin murdered him anyway. Jonathan Price went to shake Shaun Lucas‘ hand, nonetheless Lucas decided to shoot him dead. The Golden Rule didn’t work out to well for George Floyd or Jonathan Price.

I absolutely agree that it is essential to value the humanity of all people. However, the Golden Rule is meaningless to people being oppressed. Sure, we must make sure not to dehumanize anybody, even White Supremacists, even Donald Trump. But we must, absolutely, loudly, and publicly denounce White Supremacy, capitalism, etc, we must be harshly critical of those who promote these sociopathologies. And, beyond words, and contrary to idealistic notions of the Golden Rule, we must struggle to stop people with the privilege of power , from oppressing others , and we must seek to abolish oppressive systems.


My entire life I have spent as much energy as needed to bring people together. I can see both sides of almost any issue and have a natural ability to speak to people on both sides without coming across as patronizing or unauthentic - I am not attempting to place myself on a pedestal here, I am simply explaining that for 40+ years I have been a natural peacekeeper and I am personally happy that I have been able to live my life like this.

This article gave me hope when seeing the title. I have been searching for someone to help me see past what I believe to be a divide that is so unbalanced to the right that bringing everyone together asks those on the left to climb an unbelievable mountain while standing in the line of easy fire from above.

The problem is not the right. The problem is not the left. The problem is one side has always attempted to give and allow for compromise when the other side has taken every advantage of that willingness to work together. When asked to do the same they thumb their nose at the other side and continue to obstruct and at the same time insult the other side. Projecting lies and fanning the fires of fear in this country to allow for further erosion of our human rights and for abuses of power to go unchecked.

If you notice, I did not attach a side to the above differences. The left leaning individual will say that they are the ones willing to work with the other side, and the right will say the same. The left will say the right are trying to take our rights away and the right will say the same about the left. The truth of the matter is that, as I said neither side is the problem, both have no idea that everything I said in that paragraph is a problem.

Giving in and compromising unequivocally is self destructive and creates a huge amount of resentment. Stand your ground and stop doing things for the optics of not appearing to be an obstructionist. You know that you are compromising with obstructionists and expecting them to not be a scorpion as you sit there halfway across the river with them on your shoulders.

And those that take the compromise and thumb their nose at the other side when asked to do the same is simple childishness and shows a basic lack of morality - no matter how much you cling to the cross and call it your reasons for everything you do.

The only way this country is going to heal is if the party that always bends over backwards for the other one stops doing it and allowing it to be taken advantage of by the other party. Firm commitment to meeting halfway needs to be displayed by both or both walk away.

I will leave my personal insight on which party does what - I am more than hopeful that people are self aware enough to realize that for themselves.

Yes, I totally agree with everything you said…and well said at that.

Perhaps one day…

Has the author been living under a rock for the last few decades? Right wingers are no longer the other side of some abstract debate. They are fascist and many of them want to attack and kill any who aren’t also fascists. Wake up! The US can’t afford this level of ignorance and weakness, which only enables and normalizes the fascists. They are terrorists and they will be treated as such.


The problem isn’t that people are ideologically committed to their beliefs, it is that they are ideologically manipulated by those who have a profit-motive in keeping them ideologically divided and supple to the manipulations they largely don’t perceive. There is a small group of who earns a great deal of profit and power from maintaining and expanding this division to distract and occupy the minds of most voters on both sides of the ideological divide while they loot the Commons, and escape being held to account for their crimes.


He bragged about “beating the socialist”, with the very clear meaning that since he beat him, he has no need to work with socialists (or more broadly, progressives.)

He has told us many times he has no intention of working with progressives. He has not given in to any progressive pressure when it would be easiest to pressure him, before the election when he depends on the votes of people pressuring him. I think it’s insulting that people who don’t even have the intention of trying to pressure him use that line, but I can’t imagine those who do intend to pressure him would be stupid enough to think it could accomplish anything.


The author writes in the first sentence: “Unity is the only way we can keep our country from splintering.” That’s like espousing that brilliant insight, ‘his future is definitely ahead of him.’

I appreciate the author’s desire to bring people together, but, unfortunately, the rest of the article is similarly shallow and offers us little to nothing in the way of ideas to help bring about more “unity.”

Are we really just two “tribes” - right and left? Is that the only thing that defines us? The media certainly tells us that. Personally, I think the picture is much more complicated than that. Should bringing about “unity” be the goal?

one of the first thoughts i had when i saw this title was how it typifies a key difference between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’; liberals tend to bend over backwards to try to understand and accomodate conservatives, while the latter tend to be unyielding and uncompromising. then i read this:

‘I see the same “religion” cropping up in atheists, secular-leaning folks, and those on the far left - the same self-righteousness and hyper-judgment of people who don’t fall in line with a particular set of beliefs.’

classic false equivalency! again, one side, conservatives, have beliefs or dogmas that are without factual or logical support, while the so-called ‘far left’ have convictions that are generally amply supported by facts and reason. good example being the climate change issue.

conclusion: screw conservatives and screw liberals who say we must compromise with them!

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