Only a United States Can Be Great

United we stand. Divided we fall.

By Michael Brown Published on September 9, 2018

If America is to be great, it must be united. As the old (and ever true) adage declares, united we stand, divided we fall.

But how can we be united when we are being torn apart at the seams? How can we be united when we are polarizing more by the minute?

Earlier Supreme Court Confirmation Votes

Think back to the Supreme Court confirmation votes of Harry Blackmun (1970, 94-0), John Paul Stevens (1975, 98-0), Sandra Day O’Connor (1981, 99-0), Antonin Scalia (1986, 98-0), Anthony Kennedy (1987, 97-0), David Souter (1990, 90-9), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993, 96-3).

Who can imagine a vote like this today? (Yes, remarkably, Justice Scalia was confirmed without a dissenting vote.)

Even the two nominees of President Obama made it through with relative ease, despite their extremely liberal views (Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, 68-31 and Elena Kagan in 2010, 63-35).

Compare that to Neil Gorsuch (2017, 54-45) and, worse still, to the circus-like hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, which illustrate just how debased our culture has become.

It’s true, of course, that Clarence Thomas barely made it in (1991, 52-48), and Robert Bork was, well, borked (1987, 42-58). But what was the exception to the rule a few years ago is now the rule.

A Nation Divided

We are deeply divided as a nation, racially, ethnically, politically, spiritually, and culturally. And while we will also have a left wing and a right wing, there can be at least a semblance of civility and respect in the midst of our differences. All of that seems lost today.

Obviously, it will take something massive to bring real unity to the nation — like a massive spiritual awakening or, God forbid, a massive national calamity, forcing us to stand together or die.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do our part to be peacemakers rather than troublemakers.

So, let’s start with each of us, with where we live and work and communicate.

Starting With Each of Us

It’s one thing to speak the truth. It’s another thing to be obnoxious. It’s one thing to have an opinion. It’s another thing to be arrogant.

Yet all too often, when we share our views, our goal is to sound good, to get attention, perhaps even to spark controversy, rather than to make a positive impact. And to what purpose?

So, we preach to the choir, we stir up the “haters,” and we pat ourselves on the back. But have we done anything to advance our cause? Have we tried to influence those who differ with us? Have we been reasonable and rational and relevant?

There’s an interesting text in the New Testament where Paul gave instructions to pastors. He wrote, “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants” (2 Timothy 2:24-26, NLT).

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Perhaps we can learn something from this for ourselves? Perhaps there are some principles all of us can apply?

There’s a time for public rebuke. There’s a place for biting sarcasm. But there’s never a time or for self-righteous snobbery. There’s never a place for small-minded insults.

Being petty will not elevate others. Being stupid will not dignify the debate.

Let others throw dirt. You reply with calmness and clarity, exposing their error, demolishing their lies, and showing them a better way.

Divisive Politics

Our last president, Barack Obama, was a powerful orator who could rally his base to action. At the same time, his deliberate use of identity politics alienated masses of others, deepening our national divide.

Our current president, Donald Trump, stands as a champion for many Americans who feel they have lost their voice and their country. Yet his personality and his methods are terribly divisive, and so the rift grows wider.

In Washington, politicians on the left and the right lash out against each other, while our media has gone full-blown tabloid in their reporting. And so, it’s up to you and me to make a positive difference.

What You Can Do

I suggest you spend some time with an ideological opponent, asking them to share their viewpoint with you. (Sadly, to some, this is too risky; to others, it smacks of compromise or weakness; to others still, it’s not worth their time.)

If you show genuine interest when you interact with your opponents, you’ll accomplish two things. First, you’ll better understand their position. Second, you earn an open door to share your views as well.

And before you post or comment or speak, I suggest you ask yourself if your words are calculated to inflame or to educate, to insult or to enlighten, to make you look good or to change the minds of others.

You might also ask yourself if you’re treating others the way you would want them to treat you. (Didn’t someone say somewhere something like, “Love your neighbor as yourself”?)

The Maximum Impact

I’m aware, of course, that writing an article like this might not get that many clicks. Not enough snark. Not enough bite. Too nice. Too polite.

But the goal of writing articles (at least for me) is not to get more clicks. It’s to make the maximum possible impact on the maximum number of people, believing that if we emphasize the former, the latter will take care of itself.

In that same spirit, I encourage you never to underestimate the power of your words and your life. No matter how dark it is, your light will make a difference.

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  • Jacob Miller

    Or consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland (2016, 0-0).

    The GOPs blocking of Obama’s constitutional right to pick a justice broke the Supreme Court.

    And it was outrageously divisive. Unprecedented.

    No mention of that in Dr. Brown’s column on divisiveness.

    I don’t remember Dr. Brown protesting it at all. Where was his concern about unity, then?

  • Nick Stuart

    Dr. Brown: “Obviously, it will take something massive to bring real unity to the nation — like a massive spiritual awakening or, God forbid, a massive national calamity, forcing us to stand together or die.”

    Only the first will do it. Try to think of a massive national calamity that would have the effect of forcing us to stand together. Comity lasted just a couple of weeks after 9/11 before it was back to politics as usual. Heck, standing on the capitol steps “arm in arm” and singing God Bless America was political because nobody wanted to be seen as politics as usual at the time.

    Only divine intervention will do it. Christians need to be prepared for the possibility that it may not be God’s plan which may be a little more along the lines of, for example, what was laid out in Ezekiel.

    • Jacob Miller

      >> Only divine intervention will do it

      Republicans voting for politicians willing to compromise with Democrats would go a long way.

      • Paul

        How about instead the Ds compromise with the Rs.

        • Jacob Miller

          Republicans are in power — give the Dems something we can compromise on .

          That’s how it works.

        • Jacob Miller

          Republicans are in power — give the Dems something we can compromise on .

          That’s how compromise works.

          For example — reducing gun violence. We would LOVE to compromise with the Republicans on something… anything… to lower the deaths and injuries.

          But nothing reasonable is ever offered. It’s always just more guns, more armed people.

  • Paul

    Political division has been part of America since 1776. Get used to it.

    • Jacob Miller

      Yeah… but I’m old enough to remember when there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. And enough moderates to make compromise possible.

      … and that wasn’t 1776! It was 1976 and even 1986. Then Newt Gingrich got elected and his scorched-earth politics took over.

  • Paul

    Political division has been a part of America since 1776. It’s been pretty great regardless

  • Patmos

    Not many on the left are interested in examining things, they seem more interested in being propagandized, shutting down opposing speech, and sticking to their view with pride and sanctimony even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.

  • DeusVult1683

    As a former life-long Democrat who finally got fed up and Walk(ed)Away, the problem as I see it is a radicalized Left. There’s no compromising with them, no “meeting them where they are.” That being the case, either it’s stalemate or capitulate to them. Even if there was some disaster, they’d more likely try to use it to their advantage than come together as a nation.

  • Sharon

    I suspect the comments about the radicalized Left are correct. We could try to sit down with a political opponent and have a civil conversation, and that might be productive and worthwhile on an individual level. But as long as there is a “win or die trying” attitude among the powerful elites, I’m afraid the deep divisions will continue.

    • Sagittarius56

      The Elites want to keep us divided because a divided population is easier to control. It’s a old trick that they used to keep people from organizing .

  • Royce E. Van Blaricome

    Dr. Brown, you missed this one by a mile. I know, from the many comments you’ve made, that you know well and good it doesn’t matter one iota how nicely and humbly you tell certain groups that their behavior is sinful and therefore not acceptable. They are gonna call you a bigot, Hater, and quite possibly a whole lot more vile & vulgar things.

    Your comments about both Presidents Obama & Trump are spot on. But there’s one difference you neglected to highlight. Trump doesn’t pretend to be a Uniter. Obama did & does. Constantly bemoaning Division while with his very words dividing with his identity politics and other rhetoric.

    Remember, there was NO more divisive person in ALL History than Jesus Christ. And that is why I believe the divisiveness is a good thing that God is bringing. I believe God is applying pressure to divide the sheep from the goats. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to sit on the fence and folks are being forced to “choose you this day whom you will serve”.

  • LgVt

    On the one hand, I agree that without unity and peace, America will not survive.

    On the other hand, I want to take a 2×4, spray-paint Jer 6:14 on the side, and start whacking people upside the head.

  • tz1

    Luke 12:49+
    The problem with the left is they will seduce, cajole, then insist and threaten.
    “You really want unity, then sacrifice every other principle and do everything we say and you can have your Unity”.

    When I try to have a rational discussion I’m just called a Nazi. And if I say “what about my reason and evidence”, they just shout and threaten. Not all, but too many.

    I can show genuine interest, but am met with ultimatums.

    That is the “Diversity” false gospel, and why we can’t have both unity and diversity.

    I wish it were not so, but the left has found that the right wants to be nice and wants unity, and instead of cooperating, it is used as a weapon against us.

  • SinoBen

    I’m Australian and not American but have followed US politics since Trump. Can someone please confirm that there are genuine Christians on the left? Else I’d like to see a conversation between a Christian conservative and a Christian Marxist (if that was possible). The call to be united just seem hollow Dr Brown because I think it has become like a call to unite believers in Yeshua and haters of Yeshua, lovers of God and deniers of God. No surprise for me that there is more hate for Mr Pence.

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