What is Happening to Society?

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Vary rarely do I comment on current social or political issues in writing. As an Historian, I prefer to analyze the events in all perspectives, while still acknowledging my own biases. But lately I have seen a continued push to marginalize various beliefs because of generalizations that link the beliefs to political affiliations. And because of this, more anger is generated, hate and distrust of others is increased, and people become increasingly agitated against each other.

I would like to preface this by saying that in the case of Power Struggles, one party is very much the same as the other. All make mistakes, all have a vested interest in the wellfare of the people. I keep this nationally generic, as this trend is surfacing all over the globe. I wish I could say this is a new sickness that has infected Government, but it is as old as Politics itself. All past civilizations have had to deal with it, particularly those with representative governments.

During the last years of the Roman Republic, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus attempted to provide the Latins with citizenship within Rome. This was a radical idea, as Romans lead the then powerful alliance in Italy, but kept it's internal politics to itself. As new territories were won from the Etruscans, Gauls, Greeks, and other ethnic areas, the Romans would settle those lands. This was done even though the Latins provided much of the army used to win those lands. And to add insult to injury the rich Romans would end up buying all the lands from the poor Latins, leaving them homeless and desparately in need of food.

But, because the inclusion of an independent ally (note I say Ally, and not Ethnic Group) into Roman citizenship was unheard of, the Senate was against the measure. Other events and needs were also factors, but in the end it polarized the Roman society and lead to a series of bloody civil wars. Both Gracchi brothers were killed, and a series of dictators were the result until it ended with the final ascension of Augustus and the Empire.

Now, before your eyes completely glaze over with this brief history lesson, the point I want to emphasize is that the public became polarized to the point of violence. That violence was a direct result of politicians using every means they could in order to promote their own positions by destroying the credibility of others by any means necessary. Issues were brought up that had no direct correlation with the current social ills, but were perpetuated as vehicles for elections. Violence was encouraged under the flag of "patriotism", and what we call "mud-slinging" was not only tolerated, but encouraged. Politicians played on the fears of the populace by using economic problems, wars or threats of war, and even socially shocking events as ammunition against their opponents.

While many people will say this is the reality of Politics, I would disagree. Politics and power is given by the People, and the People have a right to decide how they want their representatives to behave. So instead of blaming politicians for their actions, I would like to blame the "people" who accept these methods. We are all to blame for not calling on politicians to focus on real issues. How many people in the world are starving? How much crime exists within our neighborhoods? What of the ecological threats to our planet? How much money is dedicated to education and scientific advancedment instead of revealing which senator had an affair with which intern?

Now don't get me wrong, I am fully in support of morality and values within the all social systems. Politicians have a particular responsibility to represent the best of their constituants, instead of the worst. But do we need to continue to hear about it, and generalize an entire political party? So what if there was an affair, or if there was a mistake made. Their constituants will deal with their representative. The rest of us need to keep focused on the end goal: the improvement of life for all. Social, economic, racial, ethnic, religious, and gender specific differences should not become stereotypes. Unfortunately, we all seem to prefer the sensational to the practical. Instead of focusing on issues that have a direct link to the success of humanity, we want to focus on the flaws that make us feel superior to others.

If any political representative happens to read this, or any party chairman (I can dream, at any rate), I would like to call upon you to crawl out of the mire you are wallowing in, and stand tall on real issues. Deserve the respect that is earned for your position. And to all thinking voters, I request that you think about the issues that affect you. Don't vote down party lines, vote for your issues. Force the parties to clean themselves up and actually apply their resources to those issues, instead of spending it trying to tear each other apart. If this can be accomplished, then the Republic will have some meaning again. If not, then I fear we are doomed to the same fate as the Roman Republic. The problem is, can we stomach any political party in existence running an Empire? Can we trust any of our politicans?

It's been said that Americans live in a political paradox: We distrust all governments, including our own, because we don't want interference with our lives. But we are quick to blame the Government for any ills in the world, and require their action to resolve the issue. So we both want to be rid of the burden of being told what to do, but refuse to take the responsibility ourselves for our own mistakes. I wonder which government entity will get blamed for my comments, and which legislation will be called for to quell such questions....