Divided We Fall

Thinking about freedom and unity today.

Most of us know why the United States is not part of the British Empire anymore. 240 years ago, we decided it was time to divorce ourselves from our English masters. At the time, they gave us regulations on our resources, and provided us with some needed materials to keep our colonies in order, but they got angry when we decided we wanted to stand on our own feet. England wanted to control us. We just wanted them to help us. Our disagreement turned fiery. War broke out. We eventually declared our independence. It took England a little while to forgive us for leaving them. We eventually learned how to work with each other again, in spite of our history, and we’ve since become each other’s allies during in times of serious trouble when others tried to exude their powers against us.

Internally, we’ve had problems. In the 1860’s, our nation split in two and went to war with itself. Our brilliant history will forever have this blight on its record. The division began because some in charge thought they were superior over others who had a different skin color than them. They failed to recognize those different as human, so they turned them into slaves. One half of our country thought this was barbaric. The other half thought it was entitlement. Our disagreement forged one of the bloodiest four years this land has ever seen. We began our country under the declaration for freedom, yet we kidnapped and brought foreigners to join our ranks, and then denied them the very freedom we afforded to our own citizens, freedom that they had in their own countries, all because they looked different and were therefore, by political estimation, inferior. We collapsed internally from not only a failure to see eye-to-eye with each other, but from a failure to legitimize members of our community as equals. It took a leader who sought to unify the people to bring an end to one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history. It was a decision paid for with lots of blood.

In spite of our valiant efforts to fight injustice during World War II, we still segued into madness when we encouraged segregation in the south and misogyny everywhere else. Even when we fight for perfection, we still find ways to lose it. History is full of failures where an abuse of power has divided a people. But these abuses aren’t limited to nations and their leaders.

If you think long and hard about it, you could see that even the smallest abuses among the quietest of citizens can affect the quality of a nation for the worst.

But we can fight that.

Every person has something he or she is good at and something he is not. No one person can do all things. We have people in our lives for a number of reasons, including the need to complement each other.

You ever hear the term “jack of all trades”? We usually say that about someone who can do a lot of things, which seems like a mark of praise. But it’s only half of the description. The complete term, jack of all trades, master of none, basically says that even if we can do many things, we can’t do many things well. We have passions in life so that we can work hard to do a few things well. One of the reasons we have others in our lives is so we can merge our masterful talents with theirs and create amazing things.

In politics, our leaders love to rip the country in half based on their individual political beliefs. Republicans and Democrats alike assume that their party is superior over the other. But neither party excels at everything. Both have specific passions that lend their parties a greater credibility over the other in certain areas. If one party is better with money than the other, and the other is better with social services than the first, then it makes more sense that both parties agree on what categorizes their strengths and weakness (or peaks and troughs if you want to think of it like a puzzle piece) and figure out how to connect with each other at those points so that they work as one seamless unit with all strengths and no weakness put into action. When one party thinks it’s superior over the other, the country fails. When each party identifies its compatible skills and merges its talents, the country flourishes. As long as it doesn’t become all-powerful over the people, our government can work. Likewise, it needs to understand that there are things the people can do well that the government cannot, like running private businesses, for example.

Marriages also fail when one believes he or she is greater than the other. Men and women cannot get along if both believe they should have the same skills, or want the same things, or share the same opinions as the other, even though it’s obvious they are clearly different in many ways. It’s great when we do have the same abilities and wants and opinions. But there’s no way to go up from there. There’s no way to help each other if we don’t actually complement each other. If we try to change the other to our own understanding, we exude power over the other and kick-start the division process. If we learn how to love the other and figure out how to work with our differences, we accomplish a lot more. Look at the decrepit state of most misogynist governments for a better sense of how much we need to lessen our power trips over each other if we want true prosperity.

The way our enemies defeat us is to divide and conquer us. It all began when Satan tricked us into believing we don’t need God, that we are more powerful when we’re on our own, doing things our own way. As a result, we’ve lost perfection, and we’ve lost paradise.

When we choose to believe we are better than another, we have already lost. We can’t work well with anyone we feel is inferior to us. Exercising discrimination of any kind forces us to become a jack of all trades, master of none. We should be a community of skilled masters, free of discrimination, free of entitlement, free to share what we know, free to encourage each other to grow, free to fit together as a puzzle piece joins with another and another and another until a beautiful picture is formed. That’s how we prosper.

As a closing thought, I want to reiterate and paraphrase a story I heard in church yesterday about a prominent zoo owner who trapped the uncatchable animal he prized. He went out to the uncatchable animal’s habitat and set up a post with the animal’s favorite food. After the animal would come for its food, the hunter would build wood around the post. Then he would build another post and do it again. And he would keep expanding the zone with new posts and new walls, getting more and more of those uncatchable animals to enter the pen and take what they wanted, until he had enough that he could pick his favorites. Then he’d close off the corral, choose the ones we wanted for the zoo, and release the rest. When asked how he caught the uncatchable animals, he said that he trapped his animals the way he traps people, by giving them what they want. Their pursuit of entitlements ultimately destroyed their freedom.

So, make the most of your freedom today, and try not to destroy the freedom of others. Learn to love and respect others, and figure out how to work with them. Eventually, the goodness might even spread.

Happy Fourth of July. And to my non-American friends, Happy Monday.

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