By Isaiah Slater
1st Place Essay
The United States of America: a place where squabbling children masquerade as adults, hypocrisy is often just a fact of life, and disagreement is a constant looming companion. A land where, even when eating Thanksgiving dinner, the merest mention of religion, politics, or anything remotely related to those major themes sparks a sudden verbal jousting. A great battle where family members are pitted against one another and the entire jolly mood is quickly forgotten. In short, the United States is, for the most part, one of the least united places on the planet today. So, one might find themselves wondering how unity and fellowship can be achieved in this kill or be killed environment. Or, put another way, one might wonder: what does unity look like for 21st century Americans?
The United States, being the third-largest country in the world with the third-largest population, has more diversity than many other great nations. Not only does the US have a large physical size and population, but it is also a nation that originally focused on immigration and welcoming foreigners from all around the globe. Thus causing the nation to accept people of every race, religion, and origin.
Such wild diversity has been one of the main factors in creating a verbally and metaphorically violent atmosphere; but not the only one. A second massive factor in creating this hate saturated air is a mountain of moral disagreements and the endless new moral disagreements drifting over the horizon in massive droves. New technology, new ideas, and new physiological categorizations each erecting dozens of new controversies.
Unity is clearly not an easy thing to accomplish in 21st century America; so the first question that should be asked is: What exactly has taken the place of unity in our country? To put it simply: common disagreement snowballs into hate, which transforms into disunity. The easiest way to combat this is by seeking fellowship and inclusivity.
Now, inclusivity and tolerance have recently become somewhat morphed from their original meanings. In recent years, both have come to refer to the idea of blanket acceptance of the beliefs, opinions, intentions, and actions, of all people with no exceptions. This clashes with the original definition of tolerance which is simply allowing the existence of something that one disagrees with; and inclusivity, which is merely choosing to not exclude the people themselves. Inclusivity in this context has very little, or nothing, to do with a person’s choices, and everything to do with the person .
This wonderful idea of inclusivity can be achieved through avoiding the simple rejection of a person’s company based on political opinions, moral or religious beliefs, worldviews of choice, or any other criteria based on a person’s choices or beliefs. The important distinction here is that inclusivity in this context is not accepting a person’s choices or opinions. Nor is it condoning them. With dozens of worldviews and belief systems splattered across the globe, each with differing moral views and laws of proper conduct, finding any group of people sharing all of the exact same beliefs is virtually impossible. Even among one religion or worldview, like Christianity, you find dozens of differing opinions on everything from interpretation, to the making of modern laws based on ancient rulings.
Thus, inclusivity in this instance, for 21st century Americans, is simply adhering to the beliefs held by the founding founders themselves. These beliefs are made clear by the words inscribed on the Declaration of Independence. The United States Declaration of Independence states quite succinctly: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”
So, seeking inclusivity is quite simply doing exactly what these founders declared to be right and proper, and value all people as human beings with God-given rights, as they believed, and as is self-evident under even the faintest scrutiny. So, interestingly, the easiest way to attempt to create inclusivity, unity, and compassion in 21st century America is to follow the values of 18th century America as given by the founding fathers.
By seeking inclusivity and compassion in 21st century America, we can hope to undo the cracks of hate speckled across our great nation, and seal the chasms of pain carved between states, sections of government, belief systems, worldviews, families, and people. In short, unity in 21st century America begs for us to stop ignoring the unalienable Rights endowed by our Creator, and accept—not necessarily people’s beliefs or actions—but the people themselves as equal children of our Creator.
About the author:
Isaiah Slater is a sixteen-year-old living in Southern Maine. He revels in reading, writing, running, and photography. His main writing topics and genres include fantasy, sci-fi, flash fiction, and essays on a number of topics ranging from theology, to argumentation, to Christian Apologetics. He began writing when, after finding a new passion for learning about science, he sought to sort his thoughts on paper and began writing essays, leading to a love of writing that thrives to this day. Find him on Instagram: @isaiah_sl.