We must defend America as a free nation under God!
I have returned with some regularity over the years to compare what is going on in our country today to what was going on in the 1850s, the years preceding the Civil War.
America has always been about freedom of expression. And that freedom has often led to protests and tension. Generally, we've gotten through these tough and challenging times and moved on.
But what caused everything to break down in the 1850s, leading to a horrible Civil War?
The answer, I think, is to understand the distinction between plurality of opinions and plurality of values.
Plurality of opinion is natural and vital to human reality and why freedom and democracy are so important. Each individual is unique and sees the world in his or her unique way. Each must be able to bring his or her own unique perspective, his or her own opinion, to the table.
But plurality of values is different altogether. In order to have the dialogue necessary to tolerate plurality of opinion, we must be on the same page. We must have the same core values.
When we no longer have any common ground in our most basic beliefs, in our most basic values, we lose all basis of being able to communicate and conduct civil discourse.
We may have different opinions about health care, education, foreign policy and climate change.
But in the 1850s, the differences were about the nature of man, whether blacks were human beings and whether slavery should be tolerated.
This is a breakdown in common values, not in opinion. Once the most common values were gone, the basis for civil discourse was gone, and the country broke into war, with brother killing brother.