By Tim Lyman
The reason we, as a nation, are so divided over the two greatest issues of our time – energy policy and the Iraq war – is because we are divided by our own natures at a fundamental level.
“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them”
William Shakespeare said it in the persona of the Prince of Denmark 400 years ago.
Perhaps you know it better as the fight or flight response. Animals and humans react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming them for fighting or fleeing. Some people are fighters, some people run away.
It is the elemental difference between the person who reacts to challenges by instinctively strategizing how to overcome them and knowing that they can, and the person who reacts to challenges with fear and defeatism, feeling powerless to affect positive personal change.
It is the difference between the person who has resigned themselves to working a job they hate simply because they can’t be bothered to look for other work or are unwilling to invest the time and money to improve themselves through education, and the person who is always investing the time and money to improve themselves through education and, when faced with an unfulfilling job, works hard to find another.
It is the difference between the person who wants change, but will not change, or, worse, looks outside themselves for a change agent, and the person who is always changing through personal growth.
This is the fundamental divide in humans as represented today in the United States by modern American liberalism and conservatism.