Routinely we hear comments about a community “being divided” and that everyone should be pulling in the same direction. Perhaps on the surface that sounds noble and productive.

However, we must consider how we define “divided” and we must look at the fact that challenges and contests are how we got here and how we perpetuate our system.

Someone famous once said, “When everybody is thinking alike, well that means somebody isn’t thinking at all.” In essence, some folks in that group are head-bobbers as opposed to being analytical and weighing the particles of an issue. It’s just easier for some folks to be that way.

Also, just because everyone is pushing or pulling in the same direction doesn’t account for much if careful options have not been considered and the direction turns out to be the wrong direction.

Our nation was founded on strong, even fiery debate. There have been instances where the majority was wrong. History holds a long list of those examples.

To suggest that everyone must be of the same thought in issues is incredibly Pollyana and quite often those who promote such philosophy have a vested interest or ulterior motive in their stance. Certainly we all would aspire to do “what’s good.” But the definition of good is the crux of the matter.

Keep in mind that once the prevailing thought was that the world was flat, that man could never fly and that we could not go to the moon. There was once a prevailing thought that people should be able to own other people.

Enlightenment not only promotes a wide array of thought, but begs for it.

When we break down the components of democracy, being divided on some or even many issues proves therapeutic. For instance, a tough contest between political parties can help keep our ship from listing too far to either side. We need a lot of people thinking as opposed to a few.

The ability to think, reason, explore new ideas — and perhaps more important, the art of listening — all combine to help us move forward even if that process includes debate and challenge.

Just falling in line is not required of us. However, the crucial element of debate and challenge is to be smart enough to help make a system work when you are outvoted or outreasoned in issues which would improve the human condition.

In layman’s terms, it’s about being part of the solution as opposed to being a part of the problem.

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