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Paralyzed by Polarization 09/28/2006

“Concentration about opposing extremes of groups or interests formerly ranged on a continuum.” So goes one of the dictionary definitions of “polarization.” In layman’s terms, it refers to things that used to be aligned, but are now so far apart that they are in dangerous opposition to each other.

Polarization poses one of the greatest ideological threats of our times. With the mid-term elections upon us, the already unsavory state of American politics has elevated the stench. Even with a deadly enemy on our doorstep, politicians seem to be primarily concerned with their personal and party power. It’s bad enough that some tend to put their own ambitions above the good of the country, but with the security of the country and the very lives of thousands of citizens on the line, such self-centeredness is abhorrent.

The prevailing strategy to gain or maintain political power seems to be “divide and conquer.” Half-truths, harsh rhetoric and outright lies serve as the sword to split voters into factions or “blocs.” Too many engage in turf-protecting rather than problem-solving. But if President Bush and Senator Kennedy could work together to come up with meaningful education reform, as they did in the early days of his administration, surely our leaders could use the power of reason to initiate healthy discussions on more serious issues.

“Come, let us reason” is not simply an Old Testament scripture; it is a powerful tool to discover and discern truth. Rational debate will divide in a proper way, as those with twisted thinking are laid bare by the sword of truth. Opposing views should not be avoided; they should be openly shared, discussed and tested. If people truly care for each other, real solutions can be found.

The war against terrorism must be won or our future peace and security will be sacrificed by refusing to wisely reason together. Even those who seek to merely stir up strife, like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad or Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, can be exposed as the menacing troublemakers that they really are when we put them under the microscope of reason.

Too often, opposing sides rebuff reason in the name of “conviction.” They refuse to “compromise.” In reality, an unwillingness to discuss, evaluate and consider other possibilities may prove the greatest compromise of all.

Religious leaders and the faith community must refuse to be part of the polarization. Truth must penetrate the minds of people and enhance life, not dominate.

Americans have always enjoyed debate, but for the most part, we have all been coming from the same foundational position. We were in various places, but on the same continuum. With political, cultural, racial and religious polarization, too many people have moved to a dangerous extreme. We have opposing factions fighting each other with greater force than they fight the enemies that seek to destroy every American, regardless of faith, color, age or party. This is dangerously close to the self-implosion typified by the Roman Empire. Nobody doubts that America can overcome any external enemy. But will we collapse from the internal decay?

Polarization only serves to rot the foundation that makes this country strong. Reasonable dialogue and honest debate reinforce the pillars of truth that hold up our protective walls. It is time to stop simply “choosing sides” and start solving the problems that constitute an actual threat.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 558

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.