Learning division, by longhand, the old fashioned way, on paper, with pencil stub and worn eraser, drove me nuts. Division is of course breaking something down to its essential building blocks, kind of like the division we’re seeing in America today; politically, religiously, socially and culturally. By nature, division divides, disrupting bonds that were once formidable. There’s truth in the old saying that a house divided can not stand strong. Mathematically, division by longhand is basically a dissection of the parts that make up the total. The division we are seeing in America today isn’t much different, reduced to numbers, 24% republicans, 30% Democrats, and 44% Independent. Sure, the numbers swing with any given poll or headline but the percentages, when dissected down to the fundamentals are all in the same ballpark.
Division occurs naturally in any society. There’s separation between the rich, the poor. Catholics and Protestants, the strong and the weak, peacemakers and warriors. Division is not something new. Division has been used to affect change in human beliefs and desire, and it works. Sometimes for the betterment of society, and others, not so much.
The secret to division, and it’s a dirty one, is that it needs purpose. Biologically, cells divide with purpose; growth, repair and reproduction. There’s a purpose in math as well. So it is with society. If we liken our division here at home to the purpose of cell division: growth, repair and reproduction, it takes on a different context. Thinking about purpose though, I wonder if repair and reproduction are a result of growth? One could rearrange the equation to suit their needs, and say the reproduction is the result of repair and growth? As one grows older, your body begins to break down, and there’s a need to continue your lineage. At the end of the day, no matter how you rearrange the equation it comes down to desire and need, to survive.
When I look at the political separations here at home, I often wonder about the purpose of such hatred and division. Where does the need, the desire for such division come from? To right wrongs? To gain power? Fame, control? Ego? Probably a combination of all, and more. Looking to history, we’ve always been a politically divisive nation. From slavery to economics, we’ve been divided as how to treat people and spend our money wisely. Newspapers, like todays media, have always been divided politically. History has also taught us, the best way forward is through compromise.
Yet we have come to a point, where we have been divided down to our most basic principals of human emotion. Emotion that blinds us all to compromise. To truth, to need.