The Polarizing Duality of America’s Souls

“You cannot unify that which is diametrically opposed.” – Janaya Future Khan

The word diametric comes from a straight line drawn across a circle, or a diagonal line which cuts the circle straight down the center. The two end points of that line are considered the exact opposites of each other, they are the two extremes. They could not be more different from one another.

But are they not, in a way, unified?

They may be opposite ends of the line, but they are still together on the same circle.

In America, we are at a point where the two extreme sides cannot be more opposite and also cannot be more clear. And we are grappling with what to do about this. There is talk of compromise, talk of unity, of reaching across the aisle, of listening to each other, hearing each other.

Coming together.

But we are together. We are unified. We just don’t like what we see or how it is playing out. We are unified in our fighting against each other. It is the fight, the fight which is that straight line, which connects us and keeps us apart.

Perhaps, some of us, want to be unified in peace, in not fighting. But the only way that happens is if one side dominates. Gets bigger than the circle so much so that the circle we are currently on together collapses.

We have this notion, as many a politician on both sides has expressed, that we are in the “battle for the soul of the nation.” Which implies, of course, that there is one single soul among all of us, that which we are “fighting for” which I suppose implies a fight over defining what our soul is, who we are, what we stand for, what our vision is for the future.

I assume it implies our soul is the best in us, of us, among us.

But “best” is what we do not seem to agree on. The definition of “best” for one side means justice, for the other injustice. For one side best means equality and for the other best means inequality. For one side it means fairness, honesty, truth, for the other it means cheating, rigging, stealing.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi speaks to the idea of the two souls of America. Justice and Injustice. That the battle is not for the soul of the nation but between the souls of the nation.

Kendi writes:

“Humans lie about themselves, like they lie about their nations. Humans and nations hide behind the cloak of ideals and intentions. But the outcome of what humans do and what nations do is never a lie. The outcome—what comes out of a nation’s policies, practices, and ideology—is what a nation breathes. Nations—like institutions and individuals—are not inherently anything. They are what they do. What they do is what they breathe. And what they breathe is their soul.”

I feel this. Because there are some things we cannot solve with a “reaching across the aisle.” There are certain people, certain groups, with which we cannot compromise. To do so would be to destroy our own dignity.

When one side holds a march led by white supremacists declaring their murderous violent hate, and none of the other members of that side, even if they claim to be less “extreme, ” loudly and vehemently demonstrate that that is not in fact who they are, what their soul is, then there can be no unity on a higher plane of existence.

We will remain unified only on a circle which permits this battle to continue in perpetuity. Round and around our diagonal line will go, and we will be unified without ever reaching each other.

Right now as I sit typing this, there is a tension in my chest. A tension in my being. Something telling me that only one side, one soul, can prevail. And obviously I do not have all the answers, but I am drawn to look deeper, to understand more clearly what it is we are up against, to think critically about this.

Because for now, it would seem we are only connected by the fight which is keeping us apart.

 

 

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Photo by Andre Benz

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