President Abraham Lincoln addressed the Republican State Convention, in June 1850, after being chosen as Illinois’ candidate for senator. He held to the belief that the nation was headed towards a fight because of their division and prejudice against others.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he said. “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
We know what happened in our nation’s history after this point. The greatest loss of American life we as a nation have ever seen, and likely will ever see again, with approximately 618,222 deaths.
Somehow, this war created a unity within the states that had yet to be seen. According to historian Shelby Foote, in an interview for Ken Burns’ “The Civil War”, “Before the [Civil War], it was said “the United States are.” Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always “the United States is,” as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an “is.”
Yet again, our nation has become split in our beliefs. Divided against two presidential candidates, and now divided in our opposition to the President Elect.
Is this country doomed to repeat the past? Division, brother-against-brother, secession, war? It is up to us as citizens of the United States of America to use our Freedom of Speech to close this growing divide instead of encouraging it, recognizing the unified nature of our country.
Lincoln responded to this idea as well, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Unfortunately, we are seeing just that. Protests and violence cover our headlines as the nation faces a presidential change. Scrolling through the news shows major cities, filled with protestors. Social media shows fights emerging left and right – even claims of hate crimes.
We have lost the ability to listen. Instead, we scream and preach and remain rigid for our own agenda. We have forgotten what it is like to disagree with someone and not call them a name. Instead, our country has turned in to a group of two-year olds who have resorted to name-calling and hair-pulling because someone stole our toy.
Yes. The issue of who becomes president is much greater than an issue of a toy, yet the metaphor applies. Half of the population did not get their way and both sides are behaving badly about it. What is not being taken in to account is what has actually occurred in the days since the election?
Both sides of the argument are wrong. Both sides are punching wildly in the dark, ignoring that instead of hitting each other, we are hitting the unity of our country.
To those of you that supported Hilary Clinton – I understand that you are hurting. I recognize the fear when everything you had hoped for throughout the election season suddenly comes to a crashing halt. I understand your reaction; however, are you helping or hurting our future as a free nation through your protest? Are you causing more problems than promoting change? What if, you used your voice in a calm and rational manner to peacefully promote change? I urge you to recognize the humanity of the party that opposed you. That they voted for the person they believed could change the nation, just as you did. Help him become a good president, believe that he can be a president that recognizes the voice of the people and will choose to help.
To those of you that supported Donald Trump – Congratulations. Your party won. Now the work begins. Make this a world where everyone is able to observe the constitutionally granted freedoms, equally. Make this a world where everyone is able to be treated the same, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. We are all human, derogatory terms are not necessary. Those opposing you voted for their beliefs just as much as you did. Now lets reconcile and work together to make this Nation as unified as it can be.
Remember, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
— Allie Alexy, Opinion Editor