BY JOHN HUMPHREY RIGHT OR LEFT TO THE PROMISED LAND?
A s the fervor of the recent election season slowly recedes, it is helpful to reflect on what has transpired over the last few political cycles. Though reasonable people may disagree over methods, models, and modalities, it is undeniable that the concept of ‘identity’ rests at the core of our struggle. Firmly establishing who we are, both individually and in the broader social context, is critically important to building healthy relationships, and when our sense of identity is challenged, it undermines the integrity of our structural framework. At times, this is necessary for growth and development. Constant renegotiation of identity, however, leads to nothing but discontent, doubt, and despair. The solution is to exercise discretion when determining who we allow to shape our sense of
POLITICAL CARTOON by PGHS Senior Noah Rayburn
identity. It is helpful, even necessary, to take inventory and identify precisely who holds sway in constructing our personal identity map. When faced with the emotional turmoil produced by the conflict unfolding around us, it is deeply embedded within our nature to search for reliable ‘sense-making’ sources. It is critical to our survival to learn vicariously from a trusted community. From the perspective of human-as-organism, natural reflex is to respond to alarming external stimuli and then promptly restore the body to a resting state without engaging voluntary faculties. From the standpoint of human-as-conscious-being, we wrestle with reconciling a similar dilemma when confronted with the need to process information and promptly determine whether it is actionable. The amount of input from external stimuli is infinite, yet our ability to consume, sort, prioritize, and mobilize pales in comparison. To handle this task and still maintain the emotional capacity to successfully engage with the outside world, we frequently look to trusted sources to assist in filtering and interpreting the activities unfolding around us. Historically, the bulk of this ‘outsourcing’ has been entrusted to two primary partners: the nuclear family and the local church. In
the modern era, however, this role is increasingly assigned to social media and political institutions. Put simply, we have constructed the modern equivalent of the golden calf and we have sold our souls for a sense of belonging. Politics has always been tightly stitched into the American fabric. Our nation owes its existence to the outcome of a protracted political revolution. Yet, despite having our birth as a republic tied directly to a political putsch, our desire for independence did not fundamentally change the core values of the people. The reality of this was clearly communicated in the founding documents. With the facts boldly “submitted to a candid world,” these rebels championed a complete paradigm shift in the role of government. Rather than taking the form of master, this new nation would limit the authority of the political establishment and narrow its scope to ensure each individual’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” While enjoying the privileges afforded to us as citizens of modern-day America, it is easy to miss the signal importance of this event in 1776. Long before we had any assurance of winning a violent military struggle against the world’s largest superpower,
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