In the midst of last week’s fallout from our "local resident attends D.C. insurrection” story, I received a great amount of feedback.
What did I learn? That I’m a major left-wing pinko writing right-wing propaganda.
However, I did receive a few sympathetic emails, including one from a reader who enjoyed our opinion page and how our writers present their ideas.
He called it a place of “insight, not incite.”
Sadly, incite seems to be America’s primary commodity right now. We’re making more than we could ever need.
Our never-ending outrage seems to be only reflective of our current society, where our media propagates and profits on “us versus them” narratives.
It’s a junk food media diet where you get quick, short-term satisfaction but with long-term ramifications.
A recent CBS poll asked, “What is the biggest threat to America’s way of life?”
A whopping 54 percent said “other Americans.”
Headlines debating a civil war aren’t uncommon, nor are the parallels being drawn from our last attempt over 150 years ago.
People are considering moving out of the United States — not because of where it’s heading or who’s in charge, but for the fact that they’re exhausted hearing about politics all the time.
One friend said she’d rather move to a country where things like this just didn’t matter.
“In the old days, one friend was a Democrat, the other was a Republican, but you just got on with it,” she said. “I don’t ever see that coming back.”
I’m old enough to remember those days, too. But it’s clear our nation is becoming radicalized.
So how does this end? Are we supposed to await some kind of event that magically or tragically eliminates that half of our population you don’t agree with?
Will the Capitol siege be a wake-up call or the beginning of something far worse?
I can tell you this: The media won’t fix this cultural divide, nor will a war. Like all change, it begins on a local level, and it’s up to us.
Do you want this to change, and are you willing to work for it?
It’s too easy to flip on the national news, delivered by the messenger of your choice, and demonize that half you don’t agree with.
It’s too easy to find a news story that gets your blood boiling, post it on social media and keep pointing fingers.
What would it take to find a way to bridge the gap between us and our perceived enemy?
The answer is where the truth of this situation lies.
Across history, those who are remembered fondly are those who worked to unite. I can’t think of a single person whose legacy is cherished for their efforts to divide and marginalize.
But as long as we live in our echo chambers, ranting to those who already feel like we do, nothing will change. Our divide will only grow larger.
Real change comes from getting outside our comfort zones. If we want a better 2021, it’s not going to be a vaccine or politician that fixes things. It’s up to us.
We’re only on this planet for a little while. When you look back on your life, will you see someone who worked to embrace others, despite their differences, or did you push them away?
Will we spend more time finding common ground or keep drawing lines in the sand?
We don’t have to compromise our beliefs, but we must hear the other side. Because it's not just about “what” we stand for, it's “how” we stand for it.
Let’s figure it out soon because living in two Americas is pretty damn hard right now.
Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com