“You would think truth were a fool.” — Shakespeare

I will return to good old Will and his insights in a moment, but first…

I saw a very good movie today at the local theater about Churchill (Brian Cox portrays Churchill) that touched a lot of feelings and yes, I basically had tears falling through most of it. There were moments of human frailty; regrets leading him to doubt the wisdom of throwing young men onto the beaches of Normandy; burdens of guilt and depression; fears causing a great leader to lash out indiscriminately at those around him; the sorrow and helplessness of those who loved him, standing by, only able to bear witness to his struggles; and the nobility of standing up to do one’s duty despite it all.

Soldier WWII

This movie did not get great reviews. Maybe because is it a slow-paced and quiet movie with rare moments of high drama. But I thought it was atmospheric and I was absorbed by how it delicately probed those many peripheral issues mentioned above; peripheral to the main story line of conflict over the launching of the D-Day operation.

It was impossible not to draw parallels between the agonies of decision-making and duties of leadership that Churchill felt just prior to the D-Day attack called Operation Overlord and the indecision and stress we feel as our nation, the U.S., struggles through divisive current events.

It’s very unsettling to have our intelligence gathering community confirm that we have been, may still be, and will certainly be again in the future, under attack from our persistent enemy, Russia. Yet alarmingly, there seems to be no will to take a stand on violations committed by Russia against our country by some of the top leadership of our country.

These are hard times for many of us in the United States as we watch and worry our way through nonstop news of politics and investigations. As we seem to be facing a very real enemy, but one without a face. In fact, news may be accurate. News may be only lies, innuendo and propaganda. This damaging propaganda could be spread by anyone among us, who may be either a witting or an unwitting agent for Russian interests rather than U.S. interests.  Indeed, William Shakespeare could have been discussing today’s state of public disinformation when he wrote, “He will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were a fool.” All’s Well that Ends Well. If truth is a fool, then our trouble runs deep.

Fears, doubts, anger, and the death of courteous and civil discourse. These make for a brewing storm. But the real tragedy is the apparent sanctioning and unleashing of paranoia and hate, creating a horrific division in our nation, full of bitterness and vitriol. An abyss seems to separate the two differing viewpoints about the man occupying the White House and the direction he should lead our country, and no middle ground left upon which to meet and identify any points of agreement. So how do we bridge this divide, like a river separating us?

What divides us

Matthew 12:25 King James Version 

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

We seem to be approaching desolation. People on social media are starting to discuss the phenomena called confirmation bias and belief perseverance. Discussions rapidly devolve into ‘shouting’ matches full of hurled insults. Arguments where reason, factual data, and stories of personal experience of harm that will come from certain policy actions and legislation convince neither side to budge from their positions.

I think this is true and I can actually understand why this happens. A person becomes deeply invested. Your beliefs are a big part of defining who you are. So admitting that a core belief you hold is wrong threatens your sense of self. Humans have very strong psychological defenses to protect from such fundamental shocks to our systems!

Attacking and vilifying will only cause a person to harden their positions.

So how do we begin to come together again? When people resort to hurling insults or even threatening violence, who can turn the other cheek? It takes great self-possession at such times to make a choice to employ a civil tone, a touch of empathy, to attempt to understand the problems that led someone to this point. To see The Other as human, just as we are, and not as The Enemy.

Can we, as a nation, begin to do this again? We used to have this capacity. Even governing used to employ the art of compromise, with respect on both sides. What are the approaches that may prove helpful?

Do you, readers, have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions for ways to find our way back to a less divided middle ground? To agree on some common beliefs to help move us forward as a nation? If you do, please share your thoughts in the comments following this post, with my thanks.


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