This is an opinionated editorial.
I'm hearing the word "divided" a lot lately. It would appear that a growing number of people are using the term to portray the way they feel, or lobbing it out to explain how they're victimized by others trying to "divide" society. The word as both an adjective and a verb has curiously taken on quite a negative connotation coinciding with the global pandemic we've all been dealing with in relative ways. Apparently we've become divided on the issues and our feelings towards them including vaccinations, wearing of masks, restrictions surrounding Covid19, public health measures and several others. I don't feel at all like the pandemic has divided us. I feel that the pandemic has exposed us.
There is virtually zero chance that this global health crisis threatening our physical and mental wellness created a divisive context that didn't already exist in some relative degree of latency. It would be hard for any logical person to prove that our views about the pandemic aren't reflective of our beliefs and values prior to the pandemic. Most of us in society went about our lives believing what we believed and thinking what we thought without any catalytic reason to vigorously espouse them to the world. We lived for the most part among each other in a state of peaceful coexistence. That's not the case anymore.
Here we are, apparently newly divided in our views and looking for someone else to blame. Here's the interesting part though; being divided is not necessarily a bad thing. Divisiveness has proven quite literally to be a very important and purposeful quality to keep humanity in check. If not for dissenters, questioners, people who are slow to align themselves with the prevailing attitude on any issue or challenge, we would be in big trouble. Enter group-think, blind faith, and the propensity for charismatic individuals to manipulate vulnerable people toward their way of thinking, among other frightening possibilities.
Progress is the result of mixing curiosity with a rejection of the status quo. I'm the type of person who thrives on the contrary; I'm always looking for the anti-example or the alternative point of view, but that requires a finely-tuned filter to safeguard against getting pulled unwittingly too far from the centered and grounded part of my psyche. Divining factual information out of the storm of other people's ideas takes a concerted effort. I don't want to ever be the person who blindly submits to an ideology, belief, perspective, or any other dogma without filtering it through my personal ability to think critically and intelligently about it and coming up with my own, perhaps evolved perspective. I've done this my entire life, and I've done this through the entire pandemic, and a bitter sweet reality has emerged. I'm simply not going to be interacting with a good number of people in the same ways that I used to. There's an inherent sadness in that, but also an inherent sense of relief.
I've always taken the stance that trust needs to be earned, respect needs to be free. No matter which side of an issue we find ourselves on, recognizing that not everyone will agree with our views and realising that doesn't preclude the imperative to be respectful is important. Trust on the other hand is not the same. When someone exposes views that are contrary to ours, it becomes difficult to trust them, especially when their views are not factually-based and more so when they are desperately trying to convince us that their "truth" should be our truth. That person typically won't be one of our trusted tribe members; members of our inner circle where we talk about big ideas, our most creative thoughts, and our innermost emotions. The distance between our dimensions of awareness and theirs puts them past the point of diminishing returns, so we cut our losses and look for others to replace them that by no means automatically agree with everything we say, but ones who, like us, also seek truth to support perspective and who are much more inclined to hold us accountable against our personal philosophies as opposed to theirs.
If there is one silver lining in society over the last two plus years, it's this; we know much more about the people we encounter every day, and we can make intelligent choices about which of them we respectfully want to keep close, and which we need to respectfully create some distance between us. We've ultimately been granted the privilege of knowing much more clearly who to divide into groups that we either trust, or not.