As President Trump and Trumps myriad critics remind us on a daily basis, ours is today a profoundly divided nation. Yet understanding the source of those divisions, amply displayed in perceptions of this weeks Democratic debates, requires looking beyond the antagonisms of the moment. Americans need to recover what aviators call situational awareness a knowledge of where we are and how we got here.
Toward the end of Personal History, his bestselling account of his adventures as a foreign correspondent in the 1920s, Vincent Sheean reflects on the difficulty of taking what he calls the long view. Perspective, he writes, requires finding a point in time from which events can seem ordered.
What precisely is the point in time to which Americans today can refer as they try to make sense of ongoing events? Our present-day inability to answer that question goes far toward explaining the pervasive discontent afflicting the nation. Put simply, weve lost any shared sense of Americas place in the stream of history.
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