This I Believe

Patrick - LaGrange, Illinois
Entered on February 23, 2007

Division

In a world that seeks unity, I believe in division. I believe in the courage to be contrary, even if it’s one against the world. I believe that nowhere should a view be suppressed in the name of harmony.

I don’t know when I first began to hold on to the idea of division, but a few incidents spring to mind that were important in my forming of this belief. The 2000 elections happened when I was in fourth grade. At this time, the problems of the world weren’t great enough to filter down to us ten-year-olds, so the candidate we supported (as if it meant anything) boiled down to whichever was less boring. That honor went to George Bush, and so the vast majority of my friends sided with him. I sided with Gore, though (mostly because my parents were Democrats). This didn’t fly with my friends, who would proceed to chant “Gore’s a bore” over my arguments. The strain on our friendships didn’t last, of course, and our attention quickly wandered to the next distraction life offered without any hard feelings. Still, there are times when shutting out division has a greater impact, and when it means more than a playground squabble.

In our country, in a time of war, people frequently try to draw lines of right and wrong, of good and evil. The danger in that is, people can be easily accused of being on the “wrong” side. This makes it very easy to destroy any opinion that goes against those in power. Of course, this is all done in the name of freedom and democracy, but freedom and democracy are nothing but impotent abstractions if they cannot be strengthened by division and dissent. If our country cannot allow the voicing of opinions that differ, perhaps even directly counter, the mainstream, then there is no point in fighting for freedom. If we cannot allow for divisions in a world of blind patriotic unity, then we will have become the very evil we have fought against since the creation of this nation, and our centuries of efforts will have come to naught.

America is a democracy, and division is a hugely important aspect of democracy. If a society cannot allow those whose opinions run contrary to the majority to voice those opinions, then there is no point in having a democratic system. History’s most notorious evils might have been prevented if people had accepted division and listened to opposing views. Division keeps society in check, and protects it from itself. The majority may rule, but no amount of people can dictate what is right.