NPR Declaration uproar reflects our divisiveness

A week ago, our nation celebrated Independence Day. Revelers crowded main streets and waterfronts across America to mark the day in patriotic fashion — the way it has been done since at least 1941, when it became a federal holiday.

NPR tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, line by line. What ensued, as probably most know by now, is a national embarrassment. Ignorance was not the only cause. It is a deeper, more terrifying reflection of who we’ve become as a country. One we hope we’re all willing to change.

Several Twitter users responded angrily to NPR’s posts. Accusations flew about spamming Twitter users and trying to push an agenda — all for tweeting our nation’s most sacred words from the document that built the foundation of our country.

It’s appalling it was unrecognizable to so many. There are so many things to blame, from the average American’s apathy to a general ignorance of perhaps the most significant document in our nation’s history.

Unfortunately, this is only part of the problem and maybe not even the most alarming.

Have we really become so politically toxic that even the words from the Declaration of Independence have been labeled “propaganda?”

It doesn’t matter which side you belong to, these days everyone seems so entrenched in a “red team” versus “blue team” battle that many of us don’t see clearly anymore. So much so that debasing a national historic document seems reasonable.

It is, of course, unreasonable. But, it isn’t just a reflection of the divisive environment we’re dealing with on a daily basis. It is also an indication of the “type first, think later” variety. It’s become all too easy for us to hide behind our keyboards while we spew things we would never say to each others’ faces. And look at the example we’re setting? How can we campaign against cyberbullying for our children if we’re doing it ourselves?

The true brilliance of America’s founding was in designing a political system of checks and balances that we’re supposed to debate. The point is compromising — meeting in the middle. But no one currently seems to know where that is.

The founding fathers were flawed and imperfect in their own right. But they did know that in order to form a more perfect union no one person or party would have all the best ideas, and that the greatest endeavors toward perfection lie in the space where our minds meet.

Mining Journal (Marquette)

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