Is the U.S. on the verge of self-destruction due to worsening division among its people? I hope not. But according to Jesus, "If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." About three years before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln borrowed the metaphor in a speech initiating his U.S. Senate run.
We're all different. So, how do we solve this divisiveness?
First, let's remember one thing we all have in common -- we're all Americans subject to the Constitution.
Second, let me also suggest we actually read the Constitution. Some of us have sworn/affirmed to follow, uphold, protect or defend the Constitution, for which so many have sacrificed. However, I'm confident the majority has not read this most valued document since high school, if ever. In the interim, it seems appropriate to discuss the founding fathers and government they formed.
While some of the founders were Christians, many were deists, including George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
James Madison, Jr., drafted both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Although a professed Christian, Madison was an advocate for separation of church and state. He felt religious views should be privately held.
Albeit many of us Christians believe our nation is a Judeo-Christian democracy, it is not. The Constitution and Bill of Rights establish a republic without a state religion.
As to the First Amendment, no matter the ethnic or religious group in the majority, we are guaranteed the freedom to exercise our personal religious beliefs or none at all. Also importantly, Madison divided the government into three branches, each with separate powers protected by checks and balances.
I believe we should also pay particular attention to the Preamble -- the Constitution's introductory paragraph. It lists our duties and responsibilities as the people holding the power: "To form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Apparently, the founders strongly believed that both unity, insofar as humanly possible, and contributions to the public good were conditions precedent to the future existence of our country and freedoms.
Rather than concentrate on our differences, we should talk with family members, friends, associates, neighbors, and others in a sincere effort to find actions regarding government and politics on which several will agree are for the common good.
Here are some of my suggestions, though many would perhaps disagree:
• Vote not for a straight party line ticket, but for the person who is most qualified, a person of integrity.
• Stop listening to hate and divisive speech broadcast by disc jockeys like Rush Limbaugh (2016 net worth $500 million) and Sean Hannity (2018 estimated annual income $36 million), and think for yourself.
• Write letters to and call our congressional representatives to demand that they resume their legislative powers ceded to the executive branch.
• Demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put House of Representatives legislation on the floor for votes instead of declining until President Trump advises which bills, if any, he will sign.
• Demand that bullying, and indecent, dishonest and discourteous speech in D.C. politics cease.
• Demand that gun control legislation be scheduled for a hearing/vote in the Senate before more children and grandchildren die. There is nothing to fear; the Second Amendment has been in effect since December 1791.
• Demand that climate change legislation be passed.
• Withdraw National Rifle Association membership. Wayne LaPierre's total annual compensation is $5.1 million.
I believe with patience, education and consideration, we can all move closer to unity and hopefully avoid the divisive threat to the very existence of the United States.
Len W. Ogden Jr. is a Paducah resident and a retired attorney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.