Today’s political rhetoric sounds as if our nation is embroiled in a civil war.
The term “enemy” is used so frequently it seems as if people have forgotten how many true enemies we have had to face to secure and maintain our freedom.
An enemy is not someone with whom a person disagrees, despite how the term is often used lately.
According to Merriam-Webster, an enemy is “one that is antagonistic to another, especially one seeking to injure, overthrow or confound an opponent; something harmful or deadly; a military adversary; a hostile unit or force.”
In the true sense of the word, an enemy is someone with whom a person cannot coexist. Not because of trivial differences but because the enemy is actively trying to harm a person’s well-being.
A political rival is not an enemy — unless that rival is armed with an intent to hurt someone. Yet, that type of language is commonplace.
While politicians often use hyperbole to persuade voters, real problems result when people begin to react in their daily lives in the same exaggerated nature of many of these rhetorical claims.
People believe and act on these exaggerations. They start treating rivals as if they were enemies, in the literal sense.
Our republic, founded on the principles of democracy, gives a voice to each citizen, but it belies the very system when all the voices are yelling and no one is listening — when the people who must work together to govern this system that provided our freedom treat each other as enemies.
This government of, by and for the people requires, at a minimum, that people believe more in the common bond with their countrymen than in any political difference.
This country would not have been established without that strong belief in the commonalities we share. It cannot move forward without a restored belief that we are more alike than we are different.
Yet, this is not what we hear from politicians. Each side attacks the other with such growing fervor that it seems the real point of our political process — the country itself and our commonalities — has been forgotten.
If we do not restore civility to our political discourse, the chasm will continue to grow as the country swings from one pole to the other until the entire system has been unraveled.
It is those who describe their countrymen as enemies who are the true enemy of this country.