For most of its history, America has advanced tremendously. From moral victories like the Emancipation Proclamation to societal feats like putting a man on the moon, America has a resume of accomplishments unchallenged by any country. Regardless of all the good, it cannot be ignored that there have been setbacks such as the one America is currently going through.
After years of hyperpolarization, social divides fueled by hatred and violence have become a normal part of American life. What caused this division? There is no one answer; but typically it can be generalized within the category of politics. This field includes economics, news media coverage, social unrest, protests, etc…
Despite America being a country with a ”government of the people, by the people, for the people,” many feel like that has changed into a nation controlled by billionaires and corporations. The ‘Land of Opportunity’ no longer feels opportunistic, and the American dream is a distant memory to a sizable percentage of the American public.
A 2020 Gallup Poll found that U.S. National Pride is currently at a record low. Last year only 42% of Americans said they were extremely proud of being American and only 63% said they were very/extremely proud. Compared to the early 2000s where up to 69% said they were extremely proud, and as high as 92% were very/extremely proud; this is concerning.
Low national pride, growing cultural tensions, and the sense of powerlessness has contributed to many societal problems such as violent demonstrations and shootings. Mental Health America has reported that suicide rates, depression and anxiety have all risen this past year, and the divorce rate is over 50%. These statistics are alarming so the question must be asked, “What must be done to unite the country, restore national pride and build a happy society?”
The most effective solution would be transforming society from one that focuses on faults into one that highlights the goodness of humanity. Simply being nice unconditionally and “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) will result in a nurturing, happy, and trusting society.
The Mental Health Foundation did a study in the United Kingdom on the power of kindness. They found that 63% of UK adults agree that when they are kind to others, and others are kind to them, both have a positive impact on their mental health. It is conclusive that the more one spreads positivity the more happy they and their community become.
America was founded on the three principles of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” To achieve happiness, society needs to share the common values of friendship, community and giving.
Shared values are what holds a society together, and without them society will collapse. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Americans do share common values. A 2020 study by Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights and Politics found that more than 7 in 10 Americans believe they have more in common with one another than many may think. In fact, 8 in 10 Americans agree that “without our freedoms America is nothing.” There are shared values in America. Now is the time to rebuild the bridge.
Freedom should not be seen as what one is allowed to do; rather what one should do. Ideal freedom is living with responsibilities. Living responsibly is thinking about the “Us” rather than the “I” and searching for ways to help the “We” instead of the “Me.” Morality does not come from selfishness but by selflessness.
Parents who teach their children courtesy, respect, responsibility and self dignity are raising the future leaders of society. It is also important to find them other role models such as teachers, religious leaders and inspiring neighbors.
What makes America so unique is its diversity. There are so many positive influencers from a variety of places. “Who is wise? One who learns from everyone.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1) Allowing society to build on its diversity provides the greatest chance for success.
America is divided due to its inability to accept the power of difference. This social divide comes about when people’s outlooks are “Your perspective is terrible” rather than “My perspective is good.”
A recent study by Science Magazine found that Americans hate political opponents more than they like people from their own party. If one is driven from a place of hatred against the opposition instead of love for what they believe in, there will be serious societal repercussions for the country.
To rebuild the bridges, everyone needs to focus on the potential good in one another. By highlighting each other’s positive virtues and seeing value in diversity, people can learn to accept and work together once again.
America’s diversity is her most valuable asset. Highlighting the individual strengths of people and cultures within its society will eventually bring out the best of the country. The Constitution guarantees Freedom Of Speech in order for all citizens to have a voice to change the world. Part of the responsibility of having a voice is to listen to others when they use theirs.
When people feel like they have a voice for change, they feel a sense of purpose. Purpose builds confidence. Confidence creates leadership. We need leaders to develop the future.
It is fine for one to respectfully disagree with opposing ideas as long as they respect the person who holds them. Deliberating over differences of opinions will result in the best outcomes. Seeing the best in other people will bring out the best in people. So, rather than criticize those who are different, we must see everyday as a new opportunity to find something beautiful within those differences. It also allows us to discover the beauty within ourselves. Life is the greatest gift. To look through an optimistic lens and see the good in everything is one of the secrets to unlocking happiness.
To unite a divided America, we must restore the mutual love and trust we once embodied towards one another. We must aim to bring back a sense of community, common values, gratitude and respect to our daily lives. Once we achieve this, productive bipartisan legislation, happiness and prosperity will skyrocket. America may feel broken; but this will not last forever, and it can easily be repaired. All it takes is one small act of individual kindness. Take command in leading society towards a brighter future and remember that America is a force for good. It is a place where ideas are meant to be shared and its promise of equality has inspired other nations to incorporate those values into their societies. It may not be perfect, but it is still something to be proud of. Though times can be tough, America will stand strong.