I do my best not to be bogged-down in the news. Much of this is a defense mechanism, necessitated by my depression. Wallowing in too much negativity (which much of the news is these days) is certainly a trigger for a full-on breakdown. I about had one of those earlier in the week, in fact, partly brought on by being overwhelmed with too much ingestion of daily accounts of what's going on in our country and the world. I'm not a hermit. I take-in enough to stay informed, but try not to over-indulge in things like comments sections, or Twitter feeds that are incessantly outraged.
As mentioned earlier, I overdid it this past week, and partook in all of the things I try not to do. Indeed, one simply can't ignore the reality of children being detained in cages away from their parents. I read the comments, I scrolled through Twitter constantly. The anger, the bewilderment, the fear, the resentment, the arguments, my own struggle with trying to comprehend a world seemingly gone mad was, finally, too much (add to it that Sunday was Fathers Day, and all the issues with my own deceased dad and, well...). The mini-breakdown occurred, and I traversed its choppy waters as best I could. Indeed, I probably shouldn't even be writing this post.
Regardless, something that stood out to me while indulging in the minutiae of people's interpersonal strife regarding politics, religion and culture, was the somewhat common refrain that the United States is heading toward another Civil War. It is sadly startling how often this comes up in, say, the comments sections of various news outlets, or even in whispered conversations. Often, I ignore it and move on, but, this week, I decided to give it more than a passing thought. And what I came up with is that, rather than something that may yet come to pass, we may already be in an American Civil War.
Think less of this as something with physical battlefields, troops and mortar, and more like the Cold War that enveloped the United States and Soviet Union during the latter-half of the 20th century. Comparisons to the U.S. Civil War are fraught with inaccuracies with our current state of affairs. During the 1860s, there was a clear delineation of North and South. There was one, mainly divisive issue, and major battles. Most importantly, you had the United States government in charge of one side, while a breakaway group managed the other. It's doubtful we'll see anything like that come to pass again.
No, a sequel to the Civil War -- if there were to ever be one -- would play out, well, much like it is right now. People will snipe at one another, refuse to bake cakes, vehemently disagree about what is done with children who cross the border, and generally argue about pretty much any and every important (and non-important) issue. Differences in politics, culture, and humanity will crystallize. But we are far too blended to have something like a strict North/South type of conflict. We have too many "red" and "blue" states with major pockets of urban/liberal and rural/conservative, respectively.
All one has to do is look at our Electoral College map to understand that any Civil War would be impossible to conduct on a purely physical scale. There's also the issue of the federal government. With the 1860's Civil War, you had the Lincoln administration representing the federal government. Within the past two years, we've had two administrations that are about as diametrically opposed as they could possibly be. No doubt, that will continue. Willingness and continuity of something like a Civil War in that regard therefore seems very unlikely.
What we're left with is a Cold War. A Cold Civil War. I'm not 100% sold on this being the case. It's more just thinking out loud. It's important to know our history, and to learn from it, and, yes, to realize that -- far too often -- history can repeat itself. But circumstances change, and while some toss around the notion of "another civil war," it's important to stop and think about how they would really define that, or if we are, indeed, already there.