For all that political
rhetoric lauds communities bound by shared values, people generally live in
communities built on place, education, employment and recreation. To these
things values are secondary, and political conflict takes place over our
apolitical relationships, including friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and
anyone else we bump into.
This fact contributes to
the savagery and tragedy of civil wars. Friends and families frequently find
themselves on opposite sides of a struggle, particularly brothers in opposing
armies. The American Civil War has thrown up enough examples to merit its own
Wikipedia page, “Brother
against brother”, but instances abound in all fraternal fights.
Western countries are not in a state of civil war, though the cleavages in our societies could suggest otherwise. A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the American president Donald Trump was elected found that 16% of respondents had stopped talking to a friend or family member because of the election, with 13% ending relationships entirely.
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