America today has deteriorated into Adams' "greatest fear." We have a "government" polarized into what is essentially a raucous debating society. We have a Congress defined solely by a Republican-Democrat dichotomy, that spend half their time on national television calling each other names and hurling accusations and lies at each other. And we have a populace that divides themselves into "the good guys" and "the other guys."
Most of the dissention in our culture today is deliberately induced. We have a President who regularly exercises the politics of divisiveness, inciting not only Democrats against Republicans, but poor against rich, Blacks against the police, consumers against producers, and women against men.
We have Al Sharpton and other leadches of the Black Community inciting distrust between Blacks and Whites. We have activist judges driving wedges of hatred between queers and normal people and between atheists and Christians. We have a media that equates "news" with the trumpeting of the agenda of one faction against its counter-faction.
But the polarization of a people prevents their compromise. It reduces any conversations into an exercise in demonization. And it defines all activity as defense against the opposition. Each side is driven deeper and deeper into the protection of their beliefs until the perceived necessity for that protection becomes an obsession.
Thus we see such obsessive behavior as trying to ban all models, pictures, or mention of dinosaurs from classrooms – or trying to ban the display of the ten commandments from court houses. And attacking the police for the use of protective riot gear is as narrow minded as attacking the rioters for having been incited to riot.
The human brain finds it easy to think in dilemmas. "Should I have the house painted or buy myself a new set of gulf clubs? Should I go to the store today or do I have enough food in the house to last 'til tomorrow? Should I vote Democrat or Republican?" This proclivity is readily exploited by those who have an incentive to segregate us into opposing camps.
But dilemmas are purely artificial mental constructs. Reality does not exist in dichotomies but in a smooth flow of events that present an infinite number of options. If we can get out of the habit of partitioning our thinking into opposing, mutually exclusive concepts, we can not only blunt the assaults of those who seek to delude us, we can open an unlimited range of possibilities for the direction of our personal lives.
You could, for example, paint the house yourself, or have your old clubs refurbished. You could hire a shopping service to buy and deliver your groceries. And you could take the time to get involved in the political process and find ways to assure that only reputable men from either party are elected.
"We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices." – Richard Nixon