COMMENTARY: Tempting rubicon: Civilized society both ‘divided and lost’

Taylor Harbin

A wise man once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. He also said the first thing to do when you’re lost is to admit it. Such wisdom is slaughtered and sacrificed upon the altar of our nation with its “progress” and “educated people.” 

The rising prominence of the Occupation of Wall Street and the Mississippi Personhood controversy are just two things that have reminded me that we are both: divided and lost.

One hundred and fifty years ago we distinguished between humans and non-humans based on the color of skin. The issue makes me question if we ever believed in the right to life. But that doesn’t matter. 

We’re much more civilized than we were in 1861, civilized to such a point that CNN printed a single article on the anniversary of Fort Sumpter, its causes and implications, as if everyone had already forgotten the events of the last presidential election. 

Such guidance, by the example of our elders, is dismissed as irrelevant to modern life. I don’t waste my time brokering speaking terms between circled wagons of zealots, lest I be torn asunder. Camp David won’t be the place where it all ends. 

Though we still pride ourselves as a people of reason, gone are the days when we actually used the gift. Our fathers made that same mistake, and now we’re on the verge of killing each other, yet again, because we don’t bother with talking. This time, there won’t be stone walls and charges up the long slope. It will be everyone versus everyone else.

America: 1789 style. Decades from now, surrounded by the children who managed to survive their time in this world, I’ll stand amid fresh graveyards. A man in a three-piece suit will wipe his tears and say what a horrible war it was, and then ask why it had to happen. 

Why did it happen? We simply wouldn’t have it any other way. And as he continues to pour out such archetypes of suffering in motion, the olden tombs will welcome, with silent nods of acceptance, the newly baptized members of the mute witnesses. 

If I had a dollar for every stake being driven through the heart of this nation, I’d still be broke. A new breed of abolitionists and fire-eaters have made themselves known, waving blood-soaked shirts with thunderous cries that echo amongst the hushed voices of those who came before.

“That’s not true,” many say, “things are different.” Yes, yes, “peace, peace.” We don’t refer to each other as Johnny Reb or Billy Yank, Ivan or Gringo. 

But we still bleed Red, erase bitter memories written in Black upon the White, and sing the Blues while our tired heads turn Grey.

Taylor Harbin

Paducah senior

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.