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|The Divided States of America||11/02/2006|
Too many Americans seem to prefer vicious disagreement over reasonable debate. Instead of expressing opinions, they exchange insults. Instead of persuading the public with strong ideas, they tear down their opposition through misrepresentation and slander. Into this void of intelligent discussion, the media casts their "spin" to stir controversy and ultimately mislead people.
Politicians tend to protect their partisan positions at the expense of truth. Members of Congress, for example, should stand up and challenge the opposing party's positions in the interest of their constituents. But too many focus on defending their spheres of influence rather than finding common ground in order to solve problems.
Sadly, this tendency permeates religion, too. Instead of leaders coming together and allowing "iron to sharpen iron," the cutting edge is lost because truth is not pursued as vigorously as they guard the traditions of men.
Our communication must return to honest dialogue and healthy debate. We must respect the right of others to express themselves freely, even if we disagree with what they say, even to the point of offense. The open forum of freely expressed ideas will expose error, foolishness, heresy and hatred for what they really are: chaff in the wind.
Thomas Jefferson said, "The surest signs of a healthy society are open and free debates. We must be able to agree to disagree."
The difficulty we face is the ability to debate actual ideas. When we "agree to disagree," we are not singing the exact same notes in a song, but we are still in harmony.
In open, honest debate, difficult questions must not be avoided. In order to ensure the longevity of "the land of the free and the home of the brave," we must share the ultimate purpose of discovering truth. We cannot dialogue solely for the sake of shoring up our side or firming up our position. Positive public policy cannot be built on self-serving attitudes.
We are not living in the dark days of the Civil War, where disagreement caused us to take up arms against each other, but a spirit of incivility threatens our ability to chart an effective course in a chaotic world. Unkind words can be as deadly as bullets.
We must correct
the divisiveness that impedes our progress. We can recognize variance
in ideas and opinions, yet preserve unity in purpose in order to protect
our freedom and way of life. We need not be the "Identical States
of America," but we can still be united.
Author: James Robison
Word Count: 445
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.