Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stitching the Nation Back Together with Common Goals

Benjamin Franklin on a 5 cent stamp
241 years ago today, the Second Continental Congress established the postal system and elected Benjamin Franklin to run it (he had previous experience as Postmaster General for the British). This is one of the most significant moments of US history, and our postal system is actually older than the United States itself. With all the blather about the conventions (along with the amazingly unsettling spin some outlets are putting on truly minor details) and all the nasty rhetoric being spewed on social media, it is important to step back, take a breath and reflect on history.

We have common goals.

All of us, regardless of party preference, regardless of who we like personally or think is the better (or worse) role model, share goals for our nation. If American voters were more capable of focusing on finding those commonalities, not only would this process be more palatable, but it would actually improve our nation on many levels.

If you want to talk about "making America great again," then you need to think about what that means and why you think it is not great right now. The root of it, most likely, is dogma. In every single instance, dogma is bad. Dogma stifles critical thinking. Dogma pits brothers and sisters against one another. Dogma commands tribute to righteousness rather than understanding our differences, our circumstances, the simple fact that even a perfect cube looks different when viewed from varied angles.

Only by combining perspectives can we achieve a workable whole view. That was something our Forefathers struggled to achieve. That is what the nation's first postal roads reflected. By facilitating communication, by making it possible for messages to be transmitted and received across great distances, our nation set the precedence for a broader view. Today we have the Internet, and while it increases speed and efficiency of transmission, too often the message is lost because dogma gets in the way of reception. Dogma encourages knee jerk reactions rather than thoughtful vetting. It is dogma that provides the false moral superiority that allows for rabid name calling and epithets. Dogma closes minds, destroys original thought and prevents productive, active, real discourse.

We may not have a new Benjamin Franklin waiting in the wings, but we do have the best postal roads in the world, waiting to stitch this great nation back together.