Three bulls were grazing in a meadow and were watched by a lion, who longed to capture and devour them, but who felt that he was no match for the three so long as they kept together. So, he began by false whispers and malicious hints to foment jealousies and distrust among them. This stratagem succeeded so well that ere long the Bulls grew cold and unfriendly, and finally avoided each other and fed each one by himself apart. No sooner did the lion see this than he fell upon them one by one and killed them in turn.1
“Here is a Unity Quote that we have all known since school: United we stand; divided we fall.” — Aesop
To some, this story is quite familiar. Yes, it’s an Aesop’s Fable titled “The Lion and the Three Bulls.” The moral of this story means that “the quarrels of friends are the opportunities of foes.” When schisms are allowed to enter relationships, it mars the deepest of bonds and relationships. Divisions are borne out of distrusts and discord, as we see in the fable above. When the bulls were in an alliance as a unit, they exuded strength. They stood taller than the lonesome power of the predator. The strength of the bulls was in their unity. As soon as they lost their agreement, they lost their strength. The aftermath of it all was their eventual doom in the solar plexus of their enemy—one after the other.
The United States of America is deeply polarized. To many, this is a certainty, to some a probability—this is an ongoing debate. The last election of 2020 shows how America is split right in the middle. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, in the article by James M. Lindsay titled, “The 2020 Election by the Numbers,” President Biden took home the popular vote prize with 81,283,098 votes or 51.3 percent of all the votes cast in the election.” On the split end, former President Trump took home 74,222,958 votes, or 46.8 percent of the total votes cast, which was 159,633,396 to be exact. President Biden also had a massive landslide victory in the Electoral College votes, garnering 306 votes than Trump’s 232 votes. However, the political polarization that we saw in the election results is not the only thing dividing our Union.
According to the Pew Research Center, the disagreement between Democrats and Republicans hinges on the economy, racial justice, climate change, law enforcement, international engagement, and other issues. The Pew Research Center referencing Ezra Klein (i.e., the author of Why We’re Polarized) and other authors on the reason for divisions. The authors establish that party schism intensification over time rests on people stacking various identities (e.g., race, religion, and ideology) on top of people’s partisan identities. The country has come to a point where it is either you are for this particular ideology, or you are not. There is no prevalent cause that embraces a unity axis and a common collective in national identity.
In Aesop’s Fable of “The Lion and the Three Bulls,” the lion used “false whispers and malicious hints” to foment jealousies among the three bulls. Over a while, the unity the bulls shared dissolved. The partisan politics in the United States between the Democrats and the Republicans have become more polarized than ever through the years. We don’t have a common ground on which the nation can stand on. Wise Presidents, irrespective of party affiliation, do their best to bridge the divide. However, no President in our Union’s history has sown more whispers, tweets, and barraging malicious hints than the 45th POTUS. After 30,573 mistruths, the chasm that separates both parties is more expansive than ever.
The 46th POTUS, Joseph R. Biden, has a lot cut out to expunge the torrents of false whispers and malicious hints that divides our body politic. Yes, the Democrats have an edge in both the House of Representatives and Congress to do as they please in pushing the Democratic agenda. After all, the 45th POTUS set a precedent in doing whatever he wanted with the Republican-led Congress’s full backing. So, what prevents the 46th POTUS and the Democrats in the House and Congress from doing whatever they want? As a matter of fact, nothing actually can stop them. However, doing so, turning a deaf ear to anything that the 74,222,958 citizens that voted for the former President Trump have to say will be the wrong thing to do for the good of the country in general. It would be a slippery road that will further increase the divide.
The 46th POTUS must take the high road by focusing on addressing the needs of all Americans. To do so, he might even disappoint his base in the quest of achieving some balance. Leaning too far to the left will fracture the country. Bending too far to the right will still snap the balance of the nation. The Inaugural address of President Biden is rich with what America needs to heal. In this inaugural address, he notes quite rightly that there is “Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain.” He understands that there is a gap that needs filling. He established that his whole soul is in the business of unifying the nation and righting the past’s wrongs.
“One of the things I think the next President has to do is to stop fanning people’s fears. If we spend all our time feeding the American people fear and conflict and division, then they become fearful and conflicted and divided. And if we feed them hope and we feed them reason and tolerance, then they will become tolerant and reasonable and hopeful.” — Barack Obama.
In his words during the inaugural address, the 46th POTUS establishes that “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things.” We cannot stay divided as a body politic, or we might as well kiss America goodbye. We cannot allow the virulent whispers and malicious hints of years gone by tear our nation apart. United we stand, divided we fall. If we push reason aside and refuse to heal, we will cease to exist as the United States of America.
Jesus said in Mark 3:24-25 that “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, the house will not be able to stand.” If America is divided against itself—the Red States versus the Blue States, the Republican Party versus the Democratic Party, the United States cannot stand. If we refuse to heal this house and find common ground and become a nation of values and unity, then America will not be able to stand. Like the bulls, the United States of America will be picked apart by the lion of disunity and the roar and death it brings in its wake. Failure to unite can cause our Union to implode. Inability to find common ground will leave us vulnerable to the destabilization forces of foreign nations. We would lose our hand as the world’s most decisive leader in the community of nations.
Unity is imperative if we must stand as a nation. As President Joe Biden stipulated in his inaugural address, “…speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy.” This assertion holds the weight of truth. If we desire to bury our heads in the sand and shun unity, we will reap our foolishness’s penalties by staying disunited. President Biden establishes that“History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness, and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.” To remain one nation under God, indivisible, a land of liberty and justice for all, then we must listen to our better angels and embrace unity. By the way, we cannot achieve the unity we seek in the absence of God. If we choose the contrary, in no time, we will cease to be a United nation.
Can we listen to the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln in his “House Divided” speech during the Lincoln-Douglas debate of June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois? He said that ““A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” If we fail to unite, then it will only be a matter of time, and our Union will dissolve. We don’t want to become like the Balkan nations that Balkanized. The sooner we tone down the fiery rhetoric of the past four years and further years gone by, the sooner we will begin to heal. The longer we court hatred and disunity, the faster the disunion acids will eat through the bonds of our very Union.
Let us listen to the words of wisdom in President Biden’s Inaugural Speech. His message is a tonic that the United States needs. He said that “Let us listen to one another. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” It is time for us to listen to the views of all. We must be careful to make the right choices so as not to implode our nation via chaos. There is much more that unites us than divides. In our consensus, to live in unity serves as strength. Anything short of this will be our undoing as a nation.
Disunion will lead to the dissolution of our Union. As a body politic, we cannot allow false whispers and malicious hints to foment division in our Union. United we stand, divided we fall. A lot of water has already gone under the bridge for the past four years. Many negative things have been said. Many seeds of dissension have been sown. The ties in our Union are already severed, and we need to seek ways to mend them. A two-fold-cord will not easily be broken. If we separate ourselves, we will definitely be broken—like the three bulls, one bull at a time—picked off by the lion. Failure to mend it will rend our Union into many bits and pieces. According to Jim Wallis, an American theologian, writer, teacher, and political activist, he established that “We can find common ground only by moving to higher ground.” Together, we must move to a higher ground of reason, to forge a genuinely united Union.
“Unity is strength; division is weakness.” — Unknown Author.
We must cling unto hope that we can salvage our Union. That we can bridge the gap of our differences. We must do so or risk becoming a fable, a tale, a story, of a great country that once was. We are the United States of America—United we stand, divided we fall. Once more, resonating the words of the 46th POTUS in his inaugural address, “And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity. Of love and of healing. Of greatness and of goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us. The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.” We must find common ground to move forward. The earlier we do so, the better for the future of our nation.
- Aesop. (2013). Aesop’s fables (V.S.V. Jones, Trans.). San Diego, CA: Canterbury Classics.