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Ron Kaye: It's time for divisions to cease

May 24, 2013

The lesson I take from this is that heavy-handed politicking on race, ethnicity, gender or other cohorts — a detestable word used to enchain us in identity boxes that only are a small part of who we are — is turning voters off, or even getting a reaction opposite from the one that was sought.

Call it wishful thinking, but at a time when we seem to be engaged in an uncivil war and hell-bent on our own destruction, from Washington to Sacramento to City Hall, there are signs that ordinary people are starting to wake up and think for themselves.

It is an undercurrent that needs to go viral and push us in our personal and political lives toward greater tolerance of our differences in values and greater respect for each other's needs and interests, even when they conflict with our own.


On this Memorial Day weekend, it is worth remembering that the holiday was originally called Decoration Day when it was introduced right after the end of the Civil War as a way to reunite the country and honor the 1.3 million soldiers who died — Confederate and Union soldiers.

Just before the start of the war, Abraham Lincoln, in his famous "A house divided against itself cannot stand" speech that cost him election to the U.S. Senate in 1858, presciently warned about where the intensifying debate over slavery was heading.

"I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free," he said. "I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other."

Those are words we all need to take seriously these days.


RON KAYE can be reached at Share your thoughts and stories with him.

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