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The Consequences For Lack Of Unity

JEFFERSON: ‘IF A NATION EXPECTS TO BE IGNORANT AND FREE ... IT EXPECTS WHAT NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE’ by Kevin Canfield | March 3, 2013 at 1:49 a.m.

Have you ever had an epiphany? You know, that instant acquisition of clarity on a problem that has plagued you for years.

You can feel the answer, but can’t quite explain it, then with a flash the answer becomes crystal clear. You ask yourself, “How could I have been so stupid? The answer was so simple!” These are wonderful moments, and we’ve all had them to one degree or another. I had one this last Sunday.

The issue was “unity.” Why don’t we have it in Washington when leaders throughout the centuries have proclaimed its importance? Aesop said, “In union there is strength” almost 3,000 years ago, and Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”

Wise men and women have also warned of the consequences of thelack of unity. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” as he warned of the divisiveness of slavery. Many don’t realize that Lincoln was just paraphrasing another noted philosopher, Jesus Christ, from the gospel of Luke. Not a bad model!

Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, said, “We must hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

We all know the power of unity and the destructive nature of division, sowhy don’t we have more harmony in Washington?

This is where the epiphany came in for me. I was at church, and our pastor, Mickey Rapier, was summarizing the teachings of Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

The apostle Paul was trying to drive home the importance of “unity” for Christians, and for all people in general. In Chapter 2 he says, ”Do nothing out of selfambition or vain conceit.

Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.” Wouldn’t that make for a better world?

So, if our politicians followed this guidance, what signs would we look for? We would see people who admit that they don’t have all the answers. We would see people who actually wanted to listen to others, even their political opponents, because what they really wanted was the truth. Is that what you see?

What I see is just the opposite: arguments that bend the truth beyond recognition, omit inconvenient facts and demonize the other side’s motives simply because they have the audacity to disagree. But, since we will never totally agree on every issue, does that mean we are doomed to a future spiraling into hatred, vitriol and division? I don’t think so.

John Kennedy famously said, “The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.” We can disagree, but stay united if we keep one priority in common, and that is the advancement of the United States. There is wisdom on both sides of the political argument. If we are going to answer the staggering problems we face as a country we will need leaders who can unite our people in truth and humility, not divide them with stubborn pride and selfi shness.

Recently, Dr. Ben Carson suggested the most important thing we can do as a people to change the country is to be informed voters. This is not a new issue, however. More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free ... it expects what never was and never will be.” So, if you are looking for humility and unity, what will that look like?

It would look like the gang of eight senators (four Democrats and four Republicans) who are working together to fashion a comprehensive immigration bill. It would look like Alan Simpson, former Republican senator, and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff for Bill Clinton, “giving and taking” to fi nd answers to our debt and defi cit.

What it doesn’t look like is blame, accusation and fi nger-pointing. There isnothing more damaging to teamwork and progress than this type of behavior.

Imagine a sports team on which the teammates are continually blaming each other for their mistakes.

This team is dysfunctional and doomed to defeat. Great teams encourage each other, help each other and (heaven forbid) build each other up.

Those teams are destined for victory.

In the end, it truly is up to us. We need to reward humility and unity and throw out “selfi sh ambition and vain conceit.” We need representatives in Washington who are more about unity and country than about self.

If you are honest, you will know it when you see it, then all you have to do is vote for it.

KEVIN CANFIELD, A SPRINGDALE RESIDENT, IS A PROCTER & GAMBLE RETIREE AND AUTHOR OF “MASTERING SALES.”

Opinion, Pages 11 on 03/03/2013

Print Headline: The Consequences For Lack Of Unity

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