How Did America Get So Divided
This story highlights the path to cultural polarization. Let’s say two friends, Thelma and Louise, along with their husbands and children were the first to move into a new housing community of Utopia Falls. When completed, the community is home to one hundred families.
Living in the same neighborhoods was a dream realized for the good friends, who acted more like sisters. They didn’t always agree on everything but were always able to put their friendship ahead of disagreements. Their husbands were friends as well and often went hunting together. Likewise, the children of both families were like siblings.
Thelma and Louise started a homeowner’s association (HOA) in their new community. The HOA was a small informal group that helped govern the affairs of the community. The organizations would address resident issues like noise, pets, security, etc. Each family was asked to pay a nominal fee of $50 annually to cover incidental expenses incurred by the HOA’s leadership.
Later, Thelma was informed about a man, Bob Jones, living in Utopia Falls who’d recently lost his job. He was struggling to pay his mortgage and remain financially afloat. Thelma, suggested the HOA members donate money to help the Jones family. Louise and community residents agreed and donated enough money to pay Jones’s mortgage for a full two months.
After learning that the HOA helped the Jones’s, Thelma receives calls from six other families regarding their hardships. Thelma proposed at the next HOA meeting that the $50 annual fee be raised to $75. The additional funds would be used to aid financially struggling families on an ongoing basis. Louise disagreed with making the aid into a permanent situation. Asking for voluntary donations was one thing, but the mandatory charity would rob people of their free will to help.
Thelma was adamant, and went door to door, trying to convince Utopia Falls residents to adopt her proposed fee increase. She was successful and the increase was approved. Sensing the members were becoming weary of increases, Thelma promised that no HOA fee increases would be needed for four years. Over the next twelve months, twenty families moved from the community, citing too expensive HOA fees as their reason for leaving. Louise thought these people were heartless. She was especially furious that Thelma was also considering moving. How could she abandon their dream?
Going back on her promise, Louise went back on her word and brought forward a motion to increase the fees once again. More money was needed to offset the cost of families who had moved from the neighborhood. The board and the members had had enough, and the measure was voted down. The once tight-knit neighborhood became polarized. Thelma’s supporters and Louise supporters viewed each other with contempt. The differing viewpoints even ravaged Thelma and Louise’s relationship. Six months later, Thelma and her husband sold their house and moved to a neighborhood that advertised low HOA fees. Louise felt betrayed, She vowed to remain vigilant about helping those in need and remained in the neighborhood. One year later 60% of the neighborhood residents were regularly asking for financial assistance. Subsequently, HOA fees rose to $300, which most people could not, or would not pay. The HOA was suspended. Home ownership is the once vibrant neighborhood is now down, and the worst byproduct of all is that Thelma and Louise never reconciled.
This breakdown between two good friends is almost the exact path the American people have walked. We are a viscerally polarized nation, even amongst Christians. Just like Thelma and Louise, each side’s views are rooted in some legitimacy. Politically, Liberals are right to care about the poor, it is a Christ-like characteristic. Conservatives are right to protect freedom of choice and keep the reach of the government at bay. The problem is the strategy. Liberals want to snatch wealth from the hands of one group and give it to another group. While conservatives appear to ignore the fact that some in society sometimes need help. I urge believers to be the standard bearers of how to come together. You may not believe what the another person believes, but at least try to understand why he or she believes it. Pass all your political and cultural views under the microscope of the gospel. The to drop political parties and their rhetoric is long past. Let’s look to God and his word to heal our hearts, and save our nation, before it is too late.