Fletcher: Our differences make us great

I often talk about “getting together.”

I’ve talked about Thunder Bay County where we just dissolve all of the political entities like townships and cities and just have a 70,000-person single jurisdiction with five county commissioners ruling the whole thing like a very large geographical small city. I’ve gone on about how one superintendent could administer all of the schools in such a jurisdiction. Today, I’m changing gears.

You and I read the polls and we can see that our country is polarized. There are petitions being circulated in 20 states asking for permission to secede from the union of the United States of America. It’s very unclear to me as to whether the petitioners are asking to go it alone or to amalgamate with some other like-minded states to form a new union which is more salubrious to their thinking.

Imagine a breakup of 50 states into a group of two or more countries. The last time this idea came up it was for economic reasons. There were the southern slaveholding agricultural states versus the northern non-slaveholding industrial states. If you recall it was not an amicable divorce and the attempted succession led to our bloodiest war. The South still remembers her killed soldiers and I still remember that a physician forbearer of mine died of fever in the River Campaign.

What might a split might look like today?

There are so-called Red States in the middle of the country and Blue states in the coastal regions. The economies of the regions are as different today as they were at the time of the Civil War. The center is defined by agriculture and energy and the coastal regions are imbedded in services like financial and communications. Both the coastal and central regions have ports. Blue states have ports on the Atlantic or Pacific seaboards but the Red states have wonderful ports on the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast. Economically, the two groups seem pretty much equally divided.

Today some folks have bumper stickers that proclaim “Embrace Diversity” but really we seem to be happier with groups of folks who look and act alike. Homogeneity appears to be more palatable than diversity.

Many Americas exist within our great Union. By any measure or standard we have succeeded wonderfully as a nation for over 200 years. We have shared the views of the Founding Fathers. We have said “We hold these truths to be self evident …” Our success in everything from race relations, to technical prowess, to religious freedom is unparalleled in this world. I did not say “perfect,” I said better than all others.

In the U.S. we have more than 2,600 separate Protestant faiths worshipping one Trinity. We absolutely support the rights of non-Christian beliefs. While we may not embrace diversity as individuals, America embraces the right to be diverse.

With all these “faces” of America, then which “truths” are there that all of us “hold to be self-evident”? Are they the same truths the writers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed, or are they truths from new interpretations? Should we change the bedrock beliefs of the Founding Fathers to fit today’s societal norms or should we be tailoring society to fit the original American Dream?

Mainstream churches seem to be trying to fit scriptural norms to society rather than societal norms to scripture.

This is a confusing time in which to live. It’s also a good time for each of us to ponder on which norms make us such a great country.