What Will It Take?

I will readily confess that one of my addictions is watching survival television shows.  Alone, in pairs, with a spouse, amateur, professional, desert, arctic, it doesn’t matter–if it shows survival techniques I’ll be watching.  One of these shows got me thinking about the current political environment.  The show in question is called Dual Survival and while it is between seasons now it still airs on Discovery channel.

The premise of the show was honestly a bit hokey.  As the name suggests, the show puts a pair of survival experts in difficult situations and films them as they show how to adapt to challenging environments with few available tools or resources.  The catch is that the two experts are polar opposites.  One of them, Dave Canterbury, is an ex-Army sniper and a self-proclaimed Appalachian redneck.  The other, Cody Lundin, lives off the grid in the high Arizona desert, has gone barefoot since the late 1980’s and has no need to proclaim that he is a hippy (though he does) for it is readily apparent to all who see him.

The idea was there would be a lot of conflict between the mismatched pair and in the beginning there was.  But something very interesting happened throughout the filming of the now completed two seasons.  While the situations filmed aren’t truly life or death–there’s a camera crew right there–they are still extremely challenging.  Through their shared experiences they’ve come to respect each other.  And while Cody still (incorrectly) calls Dave a jarhead or Dave complains about Cody’s “hippy dippy crap”, they clearly have formed a working bond.  While it doesn’t seem to have been the producers intent, the result is a much better show.

This shouldn’t be that surprising.  It is commonly accepted wisdom that a shared trial can bring people together.  My question is: “What will it take to bring this country together?”

If you are looking for a shared difficult circumstance, look around.  This Great Recession or whatever they are calling it now has been hard on many people.  I think everyone knows people that have lost jobs or drastically changed life plans as a result of the economy.  I have friends soon to be leaving school and will be faced with epic challenges in the job market.

You would think that such atmosphere might cause people to come together for support.  But sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.

People are critical of Obama and his administration and rightfully so.  But many take the criticisms to a whole new level of mockery and ridicule.  Saying in some way or form “I told you so” to people that voted for Obama is justified.  What is to be gained, however, from calling them idiots for having done so?  These are the people, after all, that you want to convince to make a different decision come next November.

On the other side of the coin, it is perfectly acceptable (though in my opinion misguided) to support big government and a high tax burden.  But supporters of these ideas become unhinged when presented with a group that genuinely feels the opposite such as the Tea Party.  The Tea Party is racist.  The Tea Party member are worse than terrorists.  The attacks reveal a desperation that is deeply troubling.  It is safe to say that America faces severe challenges in the world unlike any that she has ever faced.  Now is the time for people to come together and instead many are far more interested in tearing down their fellow citizens.

I ask again, “What will it take?  How bad do things have to get before people realize just how serious the current situation is?”  There has to come a time when even the most partisan among us realize that there are more important things to be done than firing off one more salvo in the Red State vs Blue State war.  I can only hope that time comes before it is too late.

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