Posted by: Suzan | October 19, 2016

United We Stand, Divided We Fall: What Does WE Stand For?


“United we stand, divided we fall.” Simple words and also, powerful, hinging on life-changing. What does this mean for you?

According to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History these words originated in a verse of The Liberty Song in 1768 by John Dickinson: “”Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”

Yesterday I attended an inspiring lecture at the University of San Diego. Jane Anyango, a grassroots peacemaker from Nairobi, Kenya and Dr. Cory Gooding, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at USD presented on The Politics of Division: Elections in the U.S. and Kenya. What struck me were the parallels drawn from what has transpired in Kenya with post-election violence to what is happening in our current election. There is so much at stake and the lecture highlighted what many of us may be taking for granted, our freedom. Underlying our hard fought liberation, with the “blood, sweat, and tears” of our Founding Fathers is our need to unify to sustain what we treasure. By pointing fingers, especially the middle one, we create distance, not only from one another, but from the ideal we are founded upon.

Both the U.S. and Kenya have “We, the People” as the preamble for our Constitutions. It isn’t “us and them.” In my opinion when we get to this fractioned place, we are in jeopardy as a nation–as citizens of this great country we reside in. Who is “We”? We need to take a hard look at this. Jane shared her concerns about how in the U.S. we seem to be people-based with the candidates rather than issue-based. She has been active in Kenya in trying to get the focus on what candidates can do for the people. In this vein she galvanized hundreds of women to stop the bloodshed of post-election violence in 2007-08 and prevent future violence in the 2013 elections.

What matters is the substance over the “personalities” because in the end we need a true leader. What I am curious about is: 1) Why during the debates does the media not shut down the other candidate to eliminate endless jabber, and at least some of the “mudslinging”? 2) Why do we tolerate the candidates continual smearing of the other rather than speaking directly to what our concerns are? 3) Why is sensationalism so encouraged? (in media and yes, also social media in which many of us are actively engaged)

Dr. Gooding suggested that after we watch the debate tonight, if we choose to watch it, to turn it off afterward. Challenge ourselves not to listen to the pundits with the microphones for what the outcome is. Instead turn within ourselves to see what is valuable to us. Jane shared, “We need to find our own true self and stand by that.” Each one of us is accountable for our choices and our actions. We need to take responsibility.


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