If I were asked to draw a map of the United States, using only the outlines of the 48 contiguous states, I'd have to give it some thought.
As a child in school, so many years ago, I could whip one up in short order. But, now, as a grown-up some eighty-years later, the same project would take a lot more time. More thought.
Because his nation is divided. No, it's more like fractured. Red vs Blue - rural vs urban - gay vs straight and still, to our shame, Black vs White. And Brown. And Yellow.
We've even got folks who want to redraw state borders to fit their political beliefs. Never gonna happen. But, they're out there and they'll keep making noises.
Long ago, I quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance. "One nation." "Liberty and justice for all." I just can't do it.
Same for parts of the National Anthem and "America, the Beautiful." "...Alabaster cities." "Brotherhood." "From sea to shining sea." Our seas haven't been shining for at least a hundred years. "Brotherhood" doesn't exist for everyone. And I challenge anyone to find an "alabaster city." Been to downtown Portland or Seattle lately?
The oft-repeated words of our anthems and the pledge just don't square with the reality out there. We can mouth the words or sing the tunes. But, the words have become descriptive of some other country where "brotherhood" and "shining seas" exist. Maybe Norway, Sweden or Finland.
Please don't get me wrong. We're blessed with our Republic - our democracy. I have strong, positive and loving feelings for my country - for our way of life. But, both are in danger of being lost if we continue to walk our current, widely divided pathways.
Maybe the strongest division we must overcome is the rural vs urban. Eastern Washington vs West of the Cascades. Eastern Oregon vs West of the Cascades. Northern Idaho vs Southern with the acknowledged division of North or South at Riggins. Or Eastern Idaho vs the more populous West.
Many of us have lived in both urban and rural environments at one time or another. And, we've found there's a lot to be said for both.
But, somehow, we're pitting one against the other - economically and politically. We believe someone else is getting more than we are. Someone else is getting more benefit - more dollars - more recognition. I heard a lot of that living in Eastern Idaho. "Those guys in Boise" most often heard. Now, it's "those guys in Portland.
Maybe the most divisive issues are political. Like people wanting to redraw Idaho's Western border clear over to the Cascades and South to California. It's notable they made a little detour around Bend which most rural Oregonians think is a hotbed of "liberals." Another division.
Abe Lincoln was the guy who said a "house divided against itself cannot stand." He certainly headed a nation deeply divided in 1865. More than any other accomplishment, he laid the groundwork to bring North and South together as much as was possible at the time. Even though we still have that division in some small, angry Southern corners.
We must get past these divisions, whatever they may be. We've got to rid ourselves of divisive politicians and their false rhetoric. We need new, younger voices vying for political leadership and others socially and culturally. We need to accept - and understand - whatever differences there may be, get past them and concentrate on things that bind us.
We need to work hard on the "brotherhood," "shining seas" and the "alabaster cities." We had 'em once. We've can have 'em again.