“We think that we are so divided in the United States, but when we sit here in this airport and look around we can’t tell who is who. That’s not really so divided.”
My brother in law said this to me as we sat in a food court eating cheap Mexican fast food at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. He was right. The divisions and polarizations that the United States currently believes it is experiencing is not even close to countries that are truly divided.
There are many countries where contending social factions look completely different from each other, have radically different histories, and speak entirely different languages. You walk into room and you can easily tell who is who.
Whether we wish to admit it, Americans are all bonded by an overarching identity. When I first heard someone say this long ago before I began traveling I thought he was nuts — “Of course I’m completely different than them!” I believed. But ultimately I was almost exactly the same as those who I targeted as “them.”
The cultural divides in the United States are relatively thin. Politically, both sides of the line are essentially the same: tribalistic, moralistic, biased-news-loving boneheads who go out into the street, hold signs, and kick and scream whenever they don’t get what they want.
This is what Americans do.