It certainly doesn't seem like we can put faith in the media or political parties, and, unfortunately, a growing number of Americans say that they no longer trust each other either. In a world that is as divided and self-righteous as ours is currently, this should come as no surprise.
This level of division offers opportunities for our adversaries to cause strife around the globe that, under normal circumstances, would warrant a U.S. response that now might be impossible as a result of our national division. Furthermore, it seems to be allowing domestic militant and extremist groups to incite racial tensions and violence that further divides us. In essence, we are experiencing a significant decline in national unity, which is perhaps the greatest threat to our nation both domestically and globally.
According to the Pew Research Center: "Americans think the public's trust has been declining in both the federal government and in their fellow citizens. Three-quarters of Americans say that their fellow citizens' trust in the federal government has been shrinking, and 64 percent believe that about peoples' trust in each other."
We are a nation built by our unified strength and once unified voice. Sadly, in today's America, there is not a single voice calling for unity. Instead, we hear multiple voices calling for unity among their respective camps. As a result, we've become a nation of many tribes, each working against one other. We've become everything Abraham Lincoln warned against, in his famous "House Divided" speech from when he accepted the Illinois Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate when he stated, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
The government also plays a significant role in this division and it seems that most Americans aren't letting the government get away unscathed. According to the same Pew Research study, "about seven-in-ten Americans (71 percent) think people are less confident in each other than they were 20 years ago."
Anxiety and tensions amongst America's citizens are at an all-time high, which causes further distrust among groups and fertilizes the fields of discord. This is then exacerbated by racial tensions and ideological shifts, which have become more apparent in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of police in Minneapolis. For so long, the United States has been the world's greatest stable force for freedom and democracy. While that status currently stands, it is at a weaker point than any other period in modern history. In fact, some might see this as a perfect opportunity to exploit America's vulnerability. By not correcting the problems within our country, we are all but inviting such exploitation by our enemies.
When I was growing up, I understood that despite our differences, we held one thing in common: We were Americans first and foremost. Nothing came before that -- not religion, not political ideology, not skin color and not sexual orientation. Tragically, however, that sentiment appears to be a foreign concept today.
Could it be that we have failed a generation of Americans who have absolutely no appreciation for the past, both good and bad? Or is it that we ourselves, the elders, have failed those who came before us? Whatever the case may be, the question of who we can and who we must trust should always be simple. We must put our faith and trust in God and in one other. We must know that when things become difficult we are able to look to our spiritual father as well as our fellow Americans for support.
Despite how bleak things might appear, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Eighty-four percent of Americans believe things can change. This means that despite this dark and challenging moment, there are millions who still believe in America and all that she stands for. The value system we maintain is so great and strong that people believe that our government and society can create a better future for all -- if we're willing to put in the difficult work, together, as Americans.