By John Redmond
After the recent election cycle, America has become more and more polarized. This is destructive to national and social harmony and, at its worst, a prelude to national collapse.
Historically, other nations that have reached this level of conflict and verbal invective have descended into partisan bickering, self-absorption and global irrelevance. On other occasions, they have moved past the argument, re-located common ground and moved forward. The British debate over slavery was a division that healed successfully but the American Civil War left scars still felt today.
National challenges are to be expected in the growth of a nation. How that nation responds depends on whether it rises or falls. According to historian Arnold Toynbee, most civilizations thrive when they are inspired by a creative minority of their citizens, visionary, educated and engaged. They fail when this leadership group becomes defeatist or mired in conflict or despair.
This is good news for Unificationists who regard development coming through Origin-Division-Union action and see that they are themselves part of the constructive creative minority. With Toynbee’s lens, this deep polarization is a challenge that can be overcome only if the creative minority steps up and meets that challenge with constructive responses.
This breakdown in civic discourse is driven in part by the change in how Americans currently get information they think they can trust — through the Internet. In the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” computer scientists discuss how search engines never send a balanced set of results for a search request or news feed; rather, they send information based on one’s browsing profile.
Two people sitting side-by-side can type in the same search term and get completely different links to pursue based on their past browsing history and economic situation. Additionally, search engine companies get paid by how long you linger over an article or link, so it is in their best interests to send provocative articles and create an emotional tie to information to give advertisers a few more seconds to catch your eye.
It is ironic Americans are more educated than at any time in history with information literally at their fingertips and yet cannot understand how to find common ground with people who disagree with their political opinions. This is true of both right and left partisans.