How is dwindling American community effecting the polarization and civil unrest in America?

Over the past two hundred and fifty years, America has earned many names for itself. Names given to our nation such as ‘land of the free’, ‘the land of opportunity’, or even ‘the melting pot’ all reveal its most iconic attributes: liberty, prosperity, and diversity. Although our nation has gained a prominent reputation worldwide, does America continue to live up to the ideologies it has created for itself? As polarization rates starkly escalate, political unrest runs rampant, and our sense of community continues to erode, there must be certain ideals every American can claim as their own. In a nation where unification is lacking, there must be a creed that unifies us. From a personal perspective, I believe that every American should make efforts to think critically and stay informed about social issues, take part in the discussions necessary to broaden personal perspective, and support local communities through service.

Along with the polarization that is currently happening in our politics, our sources of information have become polarized as well. This has led to general misinformation from many trusted media sources on a consistent basis. Not only are these sources putting out misinformation, they are profiting from this. Therefore, they have the means to continue putting out false information about current events and national issues. With public knowledge made immeasurably more accessible through the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, information about social issues is around every corner. According to Pew Research Center, half of all US adults get their news from social media. With so much news accessible all the time, it becomes an overwhelming task to discern fact from fiction when it comes to important social issues. Although this is becoming more of a challenge because of the confusion caused by media bias, it is by staying in the know about community issues that one becomes an educated citizen. In order for Americans to stay educated on social issues as a whole, we must be prepared to think critically about the information and media that we are consuming. Thinking critically about anything, especially social issues, means that we must broaden our perspectives through taking in information from different sides of an issue.

Adding onto the importance of informed citizenship, a main way anyone can broaden their perspective on social issues is by taking part in inclusive discussions. This means that we as American citizens need to be having open discussions, sometimes uncomfortable discussions with other citizens beyond our own personal viewpoints about things that we disagree on. There is much aggression among citizens of opposing viewpoints, and fear and confusion is a result of this. Now more than ever, it is necessary for America as a whole for citizens of opposing beliefs to find middle ground through discussion. Political polarization in America and the chaos that it has caused will never come to resolve unless citizens have the ability to discuss beliefs in a positive and respectful manner. When these respectful discussions start happening, not only does each party walk away with a strengthened ability to think critically about a given issue, America as a whole is made a better place because of it. The broadened perspective of an individual leads to a unified citizenship for our nation.

Diverse discussions with fellow citizens brings up the issue of how American communities are not as strong as they used to be. This is an issue on a fundamental level simply because humans are not meant to be by themselves. The Center for Disease Control states that social connection improves anxiety, depression, and even prevents death from chronic diseases.

A distinctive attribute of our nation is that it is a melting pot: the American population is made from citizens of many nations and races. With American communities being as diverse as they are, it is neccacary to the life of all of our communities that they are inclusive to all types of people that live in them. What can possibly bring people of so many different backgrounds together? Love for the community itself.

The reason that any community has the means to endure is because there are people within the community that support it. Citizens that belong to any community must be aware of the fact that their support of their community is what keeps it going. There are many ways that members of local communities can learn the art of fellowship, but an eye opening way is by serving the local community. People that give their personal time to the community through volunteering have the superpower to reach out to people that they may have never met otherwise. Research at Berkeley university shows that individuals involved in community service report that they are happier, less anxious, and more fulfilled overall then people that do not. A community full of people that serves one another is an inclusive community, and an inclusive community embodies what my American creed is all about.

Keeping America’s communities alive means keeping America free. The urgent issue of the political unrest in our nation will never resolve itself, it must start with cultivating the community of ordinary citizens. On an individual level, Americans of any background or political viewpoint that are informed citizens, critical thinkers, and open to the viewpoints of others make for citizens that are equipped to build their communities skillfully. Understanding the importance that community holds to our nation is crucial for our nation itself. If Americans can unite themselves with this creed, if we can all hold to and apply these ideals to our everyday lives, then I believe that is what will keep America’s namesake as the ‘land of the free’. This is how we as Americans can continue to live out what our nation was intended for- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.




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