One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. “Look at the fish swimming about,” said Chuang Tzu, “They are really enjoying themselves.”
“You are not a fish,” replied the friend, “So you can’t truly know that they are enjoying themselves.”
“You are not me,” said Chuang Tzu. “So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?”
It has become almost a cliche’ that this country is divided and seems to becoming even more so with each passing day. And that our government is becoming less and less responsive to the public as a whole. There have been a number of reasons suggested for this. The media seems to be a big one, thought I personally cannot put all of the responsibility on it alone.
Let’s look instead at what has changed in the course of the last 50 years or so. These are just a few things that come to mind.
• For the first time we have a large number or people from a generation that has had to do little if any physical work to make a living. Neither has there parents. That none in their immediate family has worked a Blue Collar job. Probably has no even done anything more stressful than flip burgers while they were in high school. Did not have a parent that worked in a factory or mill or even on a farm.
• A generation that was not required to be in the military. “The United States discontinued the draft in 1973, moving to an all-volunteer military force, thus there is no mandatory conscription.” – Wikipedia
• That has a parent that was in WWII or went through the depression of the 1930s. To them this is just something that they might have read about in history class.
• That has any memory of the Cold War years. Where being blown to radio active dust was a real possibility.
Add to this that ethnic divisions have grown as the number and diversity of the people who have immigrated has has increased of the the last 30 years or so. Bringing in Muslims and Hindus and Asians and people from the former Soviet Block countries. Areas that had little ethnic diversity now have a lot more. With Latino and Asian populations where just 30 years ago there were mainly white and maybe black populations only.
A drastic decrease in unionized blue collar jobs that had been integrated for a significant time. Being replaced with white collar and semi professional jobs that have not been so ethnically diverse. Jobs that had never been unionized because it was never seen as necessary.
The biggest division I see is the one along class line. And by this I don’t mean just economic but also cultural. A large group of people who along with their parents and grand parents were able to attend college and become doctors and lawyers and executives and engineers and technicians and what not. Living far away from the cities and the farms and the working class areas of past generations. For whom the American Dream was coming true but now see it Slip Sliding Away.
All this added to the racial and geographic divisions had already existed and were never really dealt with – just legislated. We have a situation that will be difficult to rectify easily.