“Why can’t we all just get along?”

July 24, 2017

During the 1992 riots in South/East Los Angeles, Rodney King uttered and popularized the phrase, “Why can’t we all just get along?” There were other phrases that were never asked but maybe should have been, like:

“Why can’t you stay off of drugs and obey a lawful order of a police officer?

“Why did you keep beating on him after he was subdued?”

“Why did you burn down your own community in support of…?”

Well there were many questions asked and far more which did not get asked, but that was a long time ago and the clash of realities remains a blotch on our history.

Why can’t we get along? Why can’t we have bipartisanship in Congress? Why can’t the political right and the political left just get along?

Even the asking of the question betrays a fatal flaw in our understanding of the issues. The surface issues are not the real issues. This is not just a husband and wife squabble about minor details or the emotional nuances of the moment. It is far from that.

We seem to think of our differences as a sibling disagreement between brother and sister, which should be solved with an apology or 15 minutes standing in the corner. We should be able to transcend the immediate issues for the sake of the greater good of unity and the rallying call to gather under the same American flag.

But it is not that simple. It is not that easy. It is far deeper than a temporary misunderstanding. It is a deep divide with a long history and foundational issues. It has developed from different roots and has no foundation on which to form an agreeable conclusion. We are not brothers squabbling over a game of marbles, we are not brothers at all. The philosophical genetics of our divide is rooted in, not just different transitory views of the same thing, but in a totally divergent reality. We may salute the same flag and recite the same Pledge of Allegiance, but our perceptions of reality are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposite.

Yes, we started at the same point. Our national founding was argued, discussed, formed and shaped and voted on. We began as a nation united toward a common goal and on a unified foundation. Yes, our founding fathers did not always agree on the details. The form and function of the nation was up for grabs and the discord of ideas were hotly debated. But the fundamental philosophical foundations were present. The philosophies of Burke, Hobbs, Locke, Bastiat, Montesquieu, and others, were born of observations of nature (“The laws of nature and of Natures God”) and presumed the existence of unchangeable principles and moral absolutes.

Then came the sweeping counter philosophies of the Nihilists, and the setting aside of God, traditional values, moral absolutes and of individual rights. We were swept into the quagmire of a world where nothing of our founding ideals existed. We were adrift in a reality where humanism transcended rights given by God and political equivalency replaced equality of opportunity. We no longer ascribe to the value of personal sacrifice and work but ascribe to the rule of the political elite who redistribute individual effort and destroy personal motivation and creativity.

Our conflict is not on the surface and the solutions cannot be adjusted. We live in a world where one side is committed to a traditional concept of reality which includes God, a free market, capitalism, individual rights and moral absolutes. On the left is the Nihilistic absence of God, absolutes, and the presence of an anti-capitalistic demand for corporate wealth and distribution.

The left no longer believes in the centrality of the Constitution, or the right of the individual to achieve, create or own wealth, and is antagonistic toward traditional Christianity and its ethical foundations.

We are left in a national confusion where many try to keep their traditional context but act out the confusion of moral and ethical Nihilism. We seem to think we can be God fearing Nihilists, or ah-moral Christians. We have taken down the parameters of human security and wallow in the mire of philosophical uncertainty.

This gives rise to the questions:

  • Can a political Nihilist (God is dead and man is in charge) be a Christian?
  • Can a leftist anti-capitalist be an American?
  • Can we long exist as a society in which the conflicts of reality have no similarity or common foundations?

Two simple arrows isolated on the white

The answer is simple. No, we cannot “just get along.” We are divided at the philosophical roots of our realities and we cannot have communications without a context of reality to bring meaning to our words.

What we are facing may not be a difference to be transcended but a war to be won or lost.

Yes, I have advanced the theory that differences can be transcended, but I am wavering as to my commitment to that possibility where there is no common ground, no philosophical context and no established common roots.

We are at war politically, philosophically and ethically.

Possibly our call for political cooperation and bipartisanship would best be directed at defeating the opposition and radically moving back to our roots.

Then again, maybe I am just too darned radical.

God help us!