There is, eternally, a solid bloc of adamant American citizens, whether for selfish business reasons, or simply from an innate disinclination to accept new scientific findings, which has persisted in its denial of the scientifically proven premise that man plays a consequential part in planetary climate change.
By contrast, with respect to” national” atmospherics, there can be no reasonable doubt as to the unfortunate pollution of our spirit as well as to our cohesiveness. We have suffered a fracturing or “balkanization” of American society into separate and distinct cohorts of individuals, each of which, respectively, share belief systems in common and eschew the society of other such groups with differing opinions. We have often written on this subject, observing that this sociological inclination has most unfortunately resulted in the complete destruction of the healthy and constructive practice of the debate of divergent points of view and a substantial loss to the democratic process. In the course of this modest writing we will attempt to discuss the possible etiology of this regrettable phenomenon.
Those of us of requisite age, may recall the national climate during the Second World War, a period of existential threat to the nation. Americans of every stripe energetically bonded together in common cause and displayed a magnificent effort to support the war effort; war bonds were purchased, manufacture was deployed to meet urgent martial needs, servicemen marched off to engage in our defense and national empathy was publicly expressed towards the families of the fallen. Radios broadcasted President Franklin Roosevelt’s encouraging “Fireside Chats”, movies and even children’s cartoons carried optimistic and patriotic messages. As young children we voluntarily collected metal and rubber findings towards the military need; in general, the entire nation was jointly and energetically united in the uniform wartime effort.
A similar phenomenon took place following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Towers. There was a uniform national response of outrage, anger and to be sure, an undeniable climate of citizen cohesiveness. The sentiment was uniformly appropriate to the horrific event. Even firefighters and police were recognized and honored for their service to the besieged municipality, the City of New York.
Can it be the fact that it is only during a period of general or national peril that the climate of joint citizenship, shared loyalty and national bonding, the expected response, but that in the absence of such common exposure to danger, we naturally regress to a divisive and factional society?
We would choose to posit the theory that there is a need on the part of many individuals to assuage personal feelings of insecurity and relative isolation by the reassuring comfort of acceptance derived from the feeling of fellowship and secure fraternity, resulting from a shared credo; most especially in joint opposition to other groups holding divergent beliefs. But, what a price to pay for ersatz security!
A mature, reasonably self-sufficient individual, based upon his personal internal resources, acquired from his education and experience, has developed his own sense of personal worth and identity. He has internalized an acceptable belief system and is personally secure and not fearful of debate; should he find himself in error, he can make the necessary correction without personal jeopardy to his esteem. “Group think” may furnish a degree of comfort for those who have not developed a mature sense of self and a personally satisfying rationale for life; but to the mature intellect, “preaching to the choir” is an unacceptable and useless waste of time; populist approval is deemed unnecessary and immaterial.
We have written extensively on the subject of the self-enhancing and fulfilling life style in which the reading of good literature and the pursuit of the arts and sciences creates the whole and independent citizen, capable of mature self-realization and independent thought. A nation composed of such citizens can be assured of eternally clear skies and most favorable climate.