Throughout the history of the world when people have become oppressed they have fled and moved to neighboring uncharted lands. The uprooted and migrating people are called refugees, pioneers, settlers, displaced persons or any other name that might be applicable to the cause at hand.
Seeking the new trade routes, Columbus searched westward and found the New World. Over a century later, religious intolerance in Europe encouraged many settlers to migrate from Europe to the New World.
The history of the United States has likewise witnessed our citizens moving westward to the frontier when they wanted to seek new adventures or wished to avoid persecution. There is even a period of time when our government encouraged westward migration to develop new territories with legislation such as the Homestead Act which provided for 160 acres of land to settlers who improved the land.
The westward migration from Europe to the Eastern United States to the west of our continent even spurred a doctrine, the Turner Thesis of 1893, which postulated that settlers had to become more adaptable and innovative and that those traits became ingrained in the American culture.
There comes a time though when there are no viable alternatives for migration are available and our adaptability and innovation may not suffice for the crisis at hand.
At the state level, the solution is simple in that all a citizen needs to do is to migrate to a more palatable state within the union.
In Massachusetts for example, citizens have been leaving the state due to its high tax burden and moving to New Hampshire. Similar migrations have been seen in movements of entire populations from the industrialized North to southern states.
It’s interesting though that as people leave one area for a particular reason they often carry with them the very desires and hopes that caused them to want to leave where they just left to begin with. During my trips to New England, I often hear citizens of New Hampshire who are very proud of their heritage of "live free or die", lament that the new arrivals for Massachusetts are seeking the same government services that they were unwilling to pay for while they were in Massachusetts. The net result is many citizens originally of New Hampshire are reluctantly considering migrating to the states that embody that which they once had before so many people migrated to their state for tax freedom!
There does come a time however when such migration is not possible.
The consequences of these shifts in political, religious, and ideological philosophies these divides may not be solved in a traditional fashion when it comes to the nation of the United States as a whole.
The specific issues that come to mind include essentially core values issues such as gay marriage, abortion, the role of government, social welfare, and even something as basic as the economic system under which this nation operates.
The great divide of such basic fundamental issues that were once unquestioned in the United States have caused the polarization that is not likely to be resolved amicably.
Whenever people’s basic philosophical core beliefs are violated, the degree of animosity and divide increases leading eventually to some form of social upheaval particularly when the alternative such as westward migration is no longer an option.
There will eventually come a point in which there must be a winner and a loser on such core beliefs. If there is no remaining frontier the issue must be decided or the nation may become irreparably divided.
Many on the liberal side will note that the nation is not a "Christian" nation attempting to tie all social issues to religion as opposed to a standard of conduct or core value that embodies what a people stand for.
The more frequently ones core values are pushed to a limit the greater the likelihood of a reaction from the opposite side. In the past, the reaction might simply be to move "westward" or to abandon the problem.
When the alternative of moving or leaving are not palatable though the consequences of backing a people "against" a wall are uncharted in the United States. Even the Civil War lacked the diametrically opposite core values on so many fronts that currently face the left and the right.
Has the time come in our nation that the divide is so great that perhaps we can no longer remain a nation as we once knew it, the United States? Have our divisions becomes so great that we are now the divided states?
Failure and collapse of the nation are a real possibility due to the financial crisis and moral redesign that is being pursued today. The trite expression "united we stand, divided we fall", is not trite at all during times of crisis or moral questioning of core values.
Our nation is in crisis.
Simple electoral majorities do not cure problems that are violations of a culture’s core values. To assume that you can vote away another’s beliefs is tantamount to societal suicide.
If a solution is not found quickly by government, a solution will be found by the people!
Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at [email protected] and twitter at @fryan1951.