“Between the searching and the need to work it out
I stop believing everything will be alright. Broken. We are broken.” — Roland Orzabal
There are any number of indicators that prove there is something seriously wrong. Earlier in the week, we introduced the thought process that we are running headlong into a civil war. We are a citizenry that seems to live and die by our Google searches. A quick Google search on civil war demonstrates that numerous people are thinking about it.
We’ve talked about fault lines and how earthquakes occur. We looked at some of those fault lines and what causes conflicts to arise along the borders of those fault lines. Truth be told though, those fault lines have always been there. Conflicts have always been a part of our culture. You can identify historical periods based on where those conflicts arise.
You do that because you know full well that some of the conflicts we currently have weren’t major considerations before. LGTBQ+ rights have always been important, but those battles weren’t fought 20 and 30 years ago when our generation came of age. People always have worried about illegal immigration and undocumented peoples, but it could hardly be called a crisis back in those days.
Sometimes things happen to make these conflicts front and center. Sometimes their rights and needs evolve to the point where a conflict is unavoidable. Sometimes whoever they is decides it is time to break out of the shadows. Sometimes new issues arise that have to be addressed. This is a natural part of history that can’t be avoided.
The usual course of these things is that those other issues that were being debated suddenly aren’t anymore. The battles of the 1950s and 1960s gave way to other battles in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, new issues arose in the 1990s and 2000s. One or two issues came forward and those others naturally took a backseat. It’s not that they became less important necessarily, but we seemingly made enough progress to at least set it aside for awhile.
If we were to characterize this age we would say that everyone has picked sides on everything and everything is a burgeoning crisis. Obviously women’s rights have become front and center as it pertains to the roll back of abortion rights. We still see African Americans and other minority groups still concerned deeply about policing and how suspects get treated. The LGTBQ+ community is still battling for recognition of their rights and what that looks like in different situations. Then, we have all the folks standing on one side or the other in the fight over income inequality.
The last part is part of the change. We seemingly stand on one side or another on all of these issues. The usual course is that for most of these issues we are standing on the sidelines. It’s not that we don’t care, but that it doesn’t directly impact us. We might consider ourselves allies to one side or another, but it really isn’t our fight. Now, we seem to fight about everything. In some ways that’s a good thing.
After all, if one of us is being held back on these fronts then we all are being held back. If black lives matter then all lives matter. If women get autonomy over their own bodies then we all do. If transgender people get to feel safe in their chosen identities then we all do. So, supporting the fight on the side you believe pushes us all forward. Either it pushes us forward or keeps from running headlong over the cliff. It really depends on your particular perspective.
All that being said, people need a break from fighting all the time. Not everything can be a battle. Something must unite us. Something must make us come together to acknowledge our shared humanity. Perhaps the worst sign of a coming civil war is the fact that more and more of these events are simply becoming another battle.
The pandemic might be the single defining event of this generation. It has become the “where were you when” moment. It is this generation’s Kennedy assassination. It is this generation’s Challenger explosion or fall of the Berlin Wall. It is this generation’s 9/11. Yet, the defining characteristic won’t be solidarity. It won’t be people coming together to defeat a faceless enemy. It won’t be people coming together at all. It will be yet another fault line drawn by forces not our own. Those forces aren’t us, but they are us at the same time. If you understand that contradiction then you are doing a whole lot better than me.