Transforming The Jangling Discord Of Our Nation III

United States

United States (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” ~Martin Luther King

I have been sick for the better part of this week, so I am listening to my body and taking a brief blogging siesta. For that reason, portions of this post are from an earlier post, one that I feel so strongly about that, over the years, I’ve posted it twice, (You can read the posts here and here.) It saddens me that there remains a need to revisit the topic.

As an initial matter, I could not allow more time to go by without mentioning and recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is described as:

a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as “public accommodations“).”

In the interest of brevity, I discussed more about the Act in this post. In brief, the Act was the culmination of a tumultuous time in American history when this country was torn apart over matters of race. Inequality reigned and the Act served to place all citizens on a level playing field, each with the same rights promised by the United States Constitution. The intention of the Act was, among other things, to begin the extraordinary task of healing the wounds of a divided nation. However, as I celebrate the Act,  I find that I am not thinking of all that the Act has accomplished and that yet to be accomplished. Instead, foremost in my mind, I am reminded of the very real problems currently facing our nation.

The problems about which I am speaking is the vitriol, rancor and hatred that has permeated American society during the last decade. It is commonplace to see references to “red” states and “blue” states, Republicans and Democrats, but these labels serve nothing more than to further divide a populous that is already dangerously separated. It’s “us’ verses “them.”

For a large segment of this country, agreeing to disagree is akin to an accusation of a heinous act. Differences of opinions are now regarded as personal attacks, and in some cases, may lead to such. Families are torn apart, friendships are irrevocably damaged, and in some instances, employees, fearing for their jobs, cast their votes as instructed by their employers. Ironically, those who are the first to scream and shout if it seems that their First Amendment rights are even slightly infringed upon, are the very people who shamelessly denigrate the beliefs and points of view of others, all the while championing their own.

On a grand scale, there is no simple or quick fix to the angry, hateful climate that has festered for more than a decade. We cannot look to the media, politicians, or anyone else for that matter, to address the problem, because in some cases, they participated in stirring the pot of discord that has boiled to overflowing. The answer lies within each of us.

Of course, there are many actions that we each can take to make sure that we are not part of the problem, but a part of the solution. The first and most important step is to recognize that there is indeed a problem. Doing so, allows each one of us to take responsibility for our own actions, and to set a mindful intention not to add to the divisiveness.

One suggestion is to begin each day with this affirmation:

“Today I will attempt to see anything I am involved with from more than one perspective. If I feel myself getting stuck in the way I see things, I will say to myself, “I wish to see this differently,” and know that my sincere desire will result in a shift of awareness. There is really no one right way to see anything. To allow my point of view to shift will not only produce insight and relief for a particular circumstance but it will give me practice in letting my mind move freely and independently. I will allow myself the luxury of relaxing my rigid point of view and letting new light and fresh awareness come into my inner sight. I believe that it is possible to see things in a variety of ways.” ~Tian Dayton, Ph.D.

How you choose to deal with the problem is up to you, so long as your solution is positive, and does nothing to add to it. Listening and treating others and their point of view with the respect that it deserves, does not mean that we must change our point of view one iota, but who knows, we might learn something. The important thing for the health of this country is that we “transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” as Dr. King envisioned. Let it begin with you.

Have a great weekend!


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My To-Do List Today.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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No, I am not voting ten times–just once. Yet, for months now, I find my mind returning to one topic in particular–the Presidential election. Even though I am fortunate enough not to watch television, I am still inundated with mail from one candidate after another. (This is one of the few times that “other” mail outnumbers the bills and other junk mail.)  Anyway,  I, like most of us, have definite ideas about our candidate of choice and their respective fine points. I know that there is nothing that anyone could say or do that would change my mind or vote, and I am sure that the same can be said for most of you. Therefore, I have no wish to add to the histrionics of the day. No, I find another area concerning the elections more compelling — the voting level in this country.

As Abraham Lincoln noted in the Gettysburg address, the United States of America is “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” With that said, our government is a vehicle of the people and without us the government cannot survive. We elect individuals to serve as our representative in both the federal government, and for the most part, the state government. The problem is that many do not chose his or her representative because they chose to abdicate this vital right.

Based on Federal Census data,

In the 2008 presidential election, 64 percent of voting-age citizens voted, an estimate not statistically different form the percent that turned out in 2004, but higher that the presidential elections of 2000 and 1996.

Overall, 131 million people voted in 2008, a turnout increase of about 5 million people since 2004. During this same 4-year period, the voting-age citizen population in the United States increased by roughly 9 million people.

In 2008, 71 percent of voting-age citizens were registered to vote, a decrease compared to the 72 percent who were registered in 2004. The 2008 election had a higher registration rate than the presidential election of 2000, but was not statistically different from the 1996 rate. Overall, 146 million people were registered to vote in 2008, an increase of approximately 4 million people since 2004.

Thus, 29% of those who were qualified to register to vote choose not to do so and more importantly, 36% of those registered and eligible to vote abdicated their responsibility.  People have varying reasons for either failing to register to vote, or having elected to register, and simply not voting. One oft-stated reason for not voting is that they are but one person and, as a result, their one vote does not count. None of us know the outcome of any race when we cast our vote, but we do so in order to exercise our vital, hard-fought right to do so. Even now, there are those who are fighting for their right to vote. Those of us who are already eligible to vote are a part of the governmental process, and by voting we join like-minded individuals to proclaim our choice of candidates. If you don’t vote, you are not a part of  all those who’ve chosen his or her representative to act as their voice in office. You’ve allowed others to make that important decision for you. Much like the Who’s in Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears A Who,” one vote, one voice, can make all thendifference. Just do it! Please vote.