Division In America: What To Do?

Division In America: What To Do?

"A house divide against itself cannot stand." - President Abraham Lincoln
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Division. It’s a buzzword in our society today. It manifests itself in the movements of both the left side and the right side of the political spectrum. Division by race, by gender, by sexuality, by political views, by class — everything under the sun is highlighted as splitting the country into pieces, shattering the once strong fortress known as America and turning it into one that is divided against itself.

Tensions seem to mount with each passing week and people are left wondering when they are going to bubble over into a full-fledged conflict. Although it makes for good journalism, it is truly sickening and heart-wrenching to see. The last thing anybody wants to see is a race war or class warfare in the United States,or anywhere for that matter. The hope of everyone is to find unity as a society, to find common ground and build upon it together. To reach shared goals, and to break through the barriers of race, gender, etc. But how? I have a suggestion…

The Corps of Cadets at VMI hails from almost every state in the U.S., the cadets come from many different financial backgrounds, is co-ed, and encompasses many different races and ethnicities. There are homosexual cadets, cadets who are transgender and cadets who are straight.

According to the trends of today and what you hear in the mainstream media, there should be clashes between the students here because of the reasons aforementioned. But instead, there is an incredibly tight brotherhood I’ve spoken about in my previous articles.

So why is this tiny military school tucked away in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley so different? The answer, while simple, is difficult to fully comprehend. Above all things, the students here at VMI identify and take pride in one label more than any others: the honor of calling themselves a VMI Cadet. All belong to other groups like NCAA teams or are members of various clubs and activities, but the bond is forged through shared experiences in the Ratline where all of the differences and previous life experiences and statuses are stripped away and the only color is the gray in our uniforms. You are not a black Rat or a white Rat. You are not a gay Rat or a straight Rat. You are not a rich Rat or a poor Rat. You are simply a Rat. This carries through all the way to graduation and beyond.

“Okay Eli, we get it, your school is just the coolest thing ever, who cares?” I hear you yell. Easy there friend, this has a point. You see, at the end of the day, it didn’t matter what we looked like or believed in, we love one another because we share one common trait with everyone, as well as the fact that we have to work with each other in order to succeed. This can be applied to the world outside of VMI as well.

Instead of saying “I’m white, rich and straight, I must have to play for this team” or “I’m black, poor, and gay, so I have to play for that team” we should strive to say “I’m an American citizen, and this is the team I play for, the best in the world.”

The issues that we face today can be solved much easier if we approached them from the perspective of "this impacts Americans" rather than this is a "black issue" or a "woman issue" and exclude all of those who don’t fall into those categories out and label them as the oppressors or enemy. Maybe if we looked at it in a way that encompasses us all instead of just a label or two, we could work together to solve it. If we forget about “privilege” or lack thereof, perhaps we can work in a way that everyone would feel happy to be a part of instead of alienated.

My realist nature gives me doubts about this working in our society. Yet, as I write this in my room in the barracks, I remember how just two years ago, my cadre and the rest of the Institute brought 500 kids together over the course of six months. Tomorrow, another Rat Mass will enter barracks and we will shape them in the way that we were. The enter the VMI Brotherhood that is Bound in Blood. After all, “blood runs thicker than water…”

Love for all those who have reached out over the last few weeks. For those that I’ve hurt, I am truly sorry. That was never my intention. Love you all.

Rah Virginia Mil’.
Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Our Leaders Need A 'Time-Out'

We all learned a few essential rules as children.

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As I look watch the news, I can't help but wonder if the lessons we learned as children might not serve our leaders well. They seem to have forgotten these basic lessons. I am reminded of the book by Robert Fulghum "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

Watch out, hold hands, and stick together.

I think this could be useful in a couple of different contexts. First, the current divisiveness in the country doesn't serve us well. We are first and foremost, a part of the family of humankind. Differences in politics, religion, and so on come in far behind that one important attribute. What happened to the notion of agreeing to disagree?

Second, when leaders get off a plane in another country, they should remember who they came with and who they represent - "watch out, hold hands, and stick together."

Clean up your own mess.

Trump seems to take great pleasure in blaming everyone else for their "mess." The government shutdown was someone else's fault – any Democrat. When the stock market went up, he happily took credit, but when it went down, he quickly shifted gears and placed the blame on the Federal Reserve Chairman. Daily and hourly tweets out of the White House place blame on someone else for his "mess." Sadly, he still likes to blame Obama and Hillary for his mess.

Don't lie.

Politicians have always had a bad reputation when it comes to honesty. Still, the number of lies that we hear from Trump (and members of his staff) is unprecedented even for a politician.

We all learned these lessons when we were little more than five years old. Now more than any time in history I think our leaders need a " time out" to re-learn these lessons.

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