Divide and Conquer, but Self-Divide and Decline


I’m finishing a wonderful book called “A Short History of the World,” by Christopher Richard Lascelles (a real mouthful of a name). The book takes a whirlwind tour through history starting with the Big Bang. I wish I had read it when I was young, to give me a foundational overview of world history. It’s just 165 pages long, and imminently readable.

History is mostly the story of the rise and fall of civilizations. One thing that struck me was the number of great empires that began declining when they divided. After Alexander the Great died, the Greek empire was divided among five generals. The Mongol Empire was divided among Genghis Kahn’s four sons. The Roman empire divided in half. Charlemagne’s Frankish empire was divided among several descendants.

54333e8840b6b763896e6040983fafedIt made me think of the current secessionist movements in the United States, with various states wanting to withdraw and become their own country. If Texas pulled out of the US, or the northwest states, or other regions, would that begin the decline of the US as a world superpower? Probably. We could get along without the Dakotas, but if one state withdrew, other dominos would fall. And I seriously doubt we would go to war (as Lincoln did) against fellow citizens. Not today, with our emphasis on self-determination.

I remember hearing Sean Hannity talking to someone who wanted Texas to secede. Hannity concluded the interview by saying, “I support what you’re doing.” And I wondered if Hannity really understood the consequences for America. It disturbed me that this one opinionated guy with a popular TV and radio show favored the disintegration of my country, and was probably convincing millions of listeners that this was a good thing.

Then you can consider: What if the South had won the Civil War? America as we know it would not exist. Instead, we would have had two countries–significant countries, but probably not superpowers–on a continual war footing with each other. The two countries probably would have had border clashes, if not all-out wars, various times over the years–perpetual enemies. They might have become friendly, but never friends. And the world would be lesser for it.

So thank you, President Lincoln, for preserving the union. And woe to the clownish Sean Hannity and all the other people who now want to divide our country into geographical pieces.

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