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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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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2019 Just Means That The 2020 Election Is Coming

I don't want things to be that way, people running for President make it that way.

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The 2020 election has begun with Senator Elizabeth Warren announcing that she has formed an exploratory committee to run for president.

Other likely candidates include Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Beto O'Rourke, Michael Bloomberg, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. And those are only the people eating at the adult's table, there are other Democrats that will probably throw their hats in the ring just for some publicity.

The last time a primary began to decide the opponent for an unpopular incumbent Republican president that had lost the popular vote in his first campaign was just 15 years ago, in 2004 when John Kerry became the nominee to challenge President George W. Bush.

Kerry may have lost the election, but he did have an easy primary. Kerry beat out his early challengers and went on to easily win almost all of the primary caucuses and elections.

I do not think that 2020 will be so easy and that is due in part to 2016. The 2016 primary may have eclipsed 2008 in terms of being one of the most consequential primaries in US history.

2016 showed the ideological split within the Democratic Party, with many New Democrats, socially liberal economically conservative centrists, holding most of the power within, while there's a strong grassroots force urging the party leftwards. Critics will claim Hillary Clinton lost because she was not left-wing enough. And Bernie Sanders's surprising success shows that anybody who wants to be the nominee has to appeal to the Sanders demographic.

This article is not really here to endorse any candidate, you can read my other articles to figure out who I'm voting for, it is however here to point out just how difficult it will be to win the nomination.

A candidate has to, according to the so-called experts: be left-leaning but also be a centrist, and be able to get minorities out to vote but also appeal to some Trump voters that they think they can win over by calling out the President's divisive tactics.

Trickle-down economics and massive deregulation always throws the economy into a recession, but the question now is when will that happen? If it happens during the 2020 election it's safe to say it's over for Trump, but if a Democrat has to challenge a Republican while the economy is doing great, it will be all the more difficult. The election will turn into a debate over so-called "social" issues (assuming Trump does not take us to war).

Issues that seem to be on most Americans' minds are healthcare and immigration. The healthcare debate will turn into a debate amongst Democrats over whether or not single-payer is possible and will likely be one of the most divisive issues of the primary. Immigration will be easy, every Democrat will go the safe route and boldly proclaim that putting children in cages and letting them die is not good. This will lead to Trump accusing them of being Antifa thugs.

The road to the White House is not meant to be easy. You need to fight hard to win the hearts of Americans, unless you are a Republican then you just need to win over rich Americans and let the electoral college do the rest of the work.

But seriously, we need to start the process of finding someone that will undo the years of horror unleashed by the Trump administration and also put the country in a new direction. Someone that will help the old and the young, and all workers. It's time for a leader that works for the American laborer, not the American entrepreneur, and above all, it is time for a new president.

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