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Can’t You Just Feel All The Unity? Two Views Of How To Heal A Nation

The Blue State Conservative

There is a great divide in this country today, greater than at any time in the last century.  Whether you describe it as between Democrats and Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives, or between Left and Right, or some other designator, it separates, friends, families, strangers, and organizations.

Joe Biden ran on a platform of healing the divisions within this country.  He claimed that Donald Trump had been divisive in his policies, and that it was time to heal those divisions.  The assumption was that Biden would advocate and implement policies that would act to reduce the divisions, perhaps by promoting objectives and values shared by many, such as reducing taxes or making energy more affordable, or addressing the homeless problem.  Bad assumptions!

What has actually transpired is a huge increase in divisiveness, with old grievances amplified and new divisions introduced such as vaxxed vs. unvaxxed, racial differences promoted, and claiming election integrity measures are voter suppression.  How is it that an intention to heal can actually lead to more division?  To answer that question, we need to look at two different views of healing.

The Wound Model

Many see this situation like a wound that without treatment could prove fatal.  Like a wound, healing involves knitting together tissue that has been divided and providing an environment where the natural growth and regeneration functions of the body can operate to restore that which was torn apart.

In treating a wound, the edges are brought together and rejoined through sutures or other means so the sides can remain in contact.  This contact facilitates the healing mechanisms that join the parts together to restore the whole.

In the body politic, that model suggests that healing will involve seeking common ground to bring parties together.  It involves respectful dialog where differences can be discussed, perhaps to be resolved, or perhaps just to be acknowledged.

The process is slow and laborious.  It often involves significant effort and may even involve active conflict from time to time. Out of it, though, grows a mutual respect and reconciliation.  Healing brings recognition that we generally share common goals even though we may differ in how to accomplish them.  It often may involve discovery of mutually agreeable means of accomplishment that are different from what either side proposed.

Underlying this wound model is the fundamental recognition that we are all of one tissue, and that healing requires a mending of that tissue.  It involves tolerance of difference, even if disagreement persists.  It recognizes that we are a collection of individuals each with different needs, different abilities, and different views of the world.  It also recognizes that even though there are different organs in the body, each having its own identity, health requires that each organ through its independent functioning, contributes to the overall health of the organism.  Just as in the body, a healthy society needs the independent operation of individuals, each responding to their own needs based on their own circumstances, interests, and abilities.

The Disease Model

The wound model, though, is not the only one available to describe the current political divide.  Some prefer a disease model, where the body is under attack by a pathogenic organism or by a malignancy developing from internal sources.  In this model, healing involves elimination of the pathogenic source.

In the disease model, the body marshals its defenses in a coordinated effort to kill off and remove the pathogen before it can damage the body beyond recovery.  Healing is a process of overwhelming and eradicating the pathogen so the body can return to normal and healthy functioning.  Toxins produced by the pathogen must be identified and purged, and the responsible organisms neutralized and removed from the body.

The political equivalent of the disease model would identify the current divide as a pathological condition arising from an ideological disease that must be eliminated in the process of healing.

The political equivalents of toxins to be removed are those of ideas, concepts, and traditions that differ from or even contradict those considered “healthy” by some group or authority.  Likewise, the sources of the toxins, like bacteria or virons, become people and groups that hold or advocate positions that differ from the “body” position and need also to be eliminated.

Social media and other technologies have made it simple to remove ideological “toxins” and to eliminate undesirable people. Our current “cancel culture” is a powerful mechanism where anonymous censors can flag and even remove postings they disagree with, without any meaningful consequences to themselves.  Unlike antibodies and various hunter cells in the body that are consumed or destroyed in the process of eliminating harmful pathogenic agents, these new social antibodies are unharmed and largely invulnerable.

Even the President of the United States can have his avenues of communication disabled by arbitrary censorship of anonymous social antibody agents, with little or no recourse or accountability.  People can be eliminated from social networks with a swipe of the finger.  Employees who express the “wrong” views or hold unpopular opinions can be fired and blacklisted often without ever knowing their accusers.

Enough complaints to human resource departments are often sufficient to destroy a career.

On a larger stage, ideas and expressions can be attacked through labels such as racist, or deplorable, or domestic terrorist, or white privilege and pronounced unacceptable or even illegal to express.  People and organizations are given similar labels, regardless of whether the label is accurate, and the result can be catastrophic.

Reconcilable Differences?

It would seem that many people today see things through the lens of the disease model.  Certainly the Progressive Left is doing all it can to represent conservatives and the Right as disease agents that will destroy the country unless they are eliminated.  Often, they are quite outspoken about what they think should be done, such as shooting everyone who refuses a Covid vaccine, or making sure that a Trump supporter can never work anywhere ever.  They are not above using the power of the state to identify, isolate, and punish those who disagree with them. Their implacable conviction that they are always right and superior makes them impervious to seeing the harm of their own actions.  It is always the other’s fault for not submitting to the Progressive’s perfectly reasonable and commonsense ideas, even if those ideas are manifestly flawed.

Those on the Right tend to favor the wound model, although many have come to the realization that the model only works if both sides subscribe to it.  The side advocating the disease model will always oppose and work to block attempts to seek common ground and interest.  After all, who wants to cozy up to a disease?

On the Left, there is the attitude that if only the Right would give up its outmoded beliefs about the Constitution and individual liberty, and fall in line with the directions of the Left, all would be well and we could march together in harmony into a better world.  Those on the Right see many of the directions of the Left as impractical at best, and frequently downright destructive, much like following instructions to run off a cliff and flap one’s arms in order to fly.

The Left ascribes the bodies at the bottom of the cliff to a failure to flap hard enough, or to follow directions properly.  It cannot be due to a failure of the idea since that would mean the idea was wrong, and the Left can never be wrong. Hence Biden’s comment that he would choose “truth” over facts.

This illustrates probably the greatest difference between Left and Right.  The Right is willing to be wrong and to learn from mistakes, while the Left is never wrong, especially when they are.  Thus the two approaches to healing.

It takes two parties acting in concert to heal a wound, but only one party to acquire sufficient power to eradicate the other in the disease model.  Any party confronting a disease model adversary must resist with superior power or be eliminated.  There is no middle ground.

There can be no reasoning with someone who is convinced you are wrong and who finds it acceptable to compel you to follow their diktats.  The sooner this is realized the sooner one can deploy effective resistance.  There can be no compromise.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Content syndicated from TheBlueStateConservative.com with permission.

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David Robb

David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.

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