What is different about life now than at other times in America’s history (or any nation’s history)? The ability of newly minted social and older media to spread, via the Internet, inflammatory rhetoric to billions of people 24/7. What is not different is the fact that seamy, sordid things and very cruel things have always lurked behind the glitter, pomp and complacencies of our lives.
That the times are divisive and emblematic of devalued Enlightenment principles concerning reason and truth, once expected to guide our brute instincts toward serving the public good, is one thing. That we allow such times to intimidate and unsettle us, to separate us from our own principles as well as our civility, utility and hopes for achieving our country is a bad thing. A bad thing, but not unexpected.
Human beings are not born humane, cultured and autonomously responsible. We are not blessed at birth with an unwavering care and concern for what is right, noble and compassionate or with the nerve to act on these decencies when the bandwagons of finger-pointing, doom and despair would have us do otherwise. To civil and rational possibilities we must be tutored and trained and of their bold expression we must of ourselves demand.
In other words, each of us in America is subject to the burden of our transformation from naked primate to autonomous citizen. It is our means to owning and achieving our country. We pay the price of ownership via the studied acquisition of autonomy.