Growing Anger and Division in Our Society

By Nelson Campbell

A couple of nights ago, I turned on the TV to see thousands of people protesting at a Donald Trump rally. I won’t comment on this in a partisan way; quite frankly, I am not a Democrat or Republican. I believe there is a third way, a way that is unseen because most of us are staring fixedly at separate pieces of a larger whole, and this is a topic for another day. What I would like to comment on here is the growing anger and division in our society.

I see this as the outcome of a singular problem—the growing disconnect in our society.

This problem starts with a mistaken view of who we are. We often define ourselves by our financial, physical, and emotional attachments, not by what is at the center of our being. I believe that we are essentially spiritual beings, whose core is intentional, creative, compassionate, and aligned with the natural world. And when we choose to live in a way that expresses these essential qualities, we connect with the people around us, and with the very fabric of the universe, becoming one with something bigger than any of us can even comprehend.

But instead, we find ourselves on a path taking us away from others. We are tribal by nature, yet we live apart from one another, in boxes, hidden behind walls and screens. And we live under the illusion of connection through technology. We post something on Facebook about our day, and we think we are connecting. Of course there is a small bit of connection here, but it is a shadow of the kind of deeper human connection we require. 

As we disconnect from ourselves and from one another, we end up disconnecting from our future. Rather than being masters of our destinies, we feel as though we are caught in a vicious current we cannot control, and we spend our days just trying to keep our heads above water. The loss of community causes a complex cascade of events in society, all leading to massive political, economic, and environmental problems that create this raging current. And it also gives rise to the anger and division we see today. Our natural empathy for others dissolves within the dark spaces that exist between us, and it is over these empty distances that we yell at one another.

But not all is lost. “Our future is bright—all we need to do is see it.” Throughout human history, many of the greatest steps forward have come during times of darkness. I would argue that there has never been a time like now, when the potential for revolutionary change is so great.  

But to make this change, we need to see the power of connection. We need to understand that freedom is rooted in the nurturing connections of community, and then think through strategies for building these connections.