As I was working out at lunch, I happened to catch a brief glimpse of one of the hearings on going. The speaker made the comment that the position of the hearings required a person who would look out "for all of us" - and, by extension, the person in question was not that person.
"Looking out for all of us". The comment stuck with me as I meandered my way through the afternoon. That is the point of a government, is it not: to look out for all of us. But what happens if that sense of "having my back" is broken - not by government, but by fellow citizens?
What happens when citizens believe that their fellow citizens will no longer act to protect the other's interests as well as their own? What happens when the sensation is that my "group" (define it how you choose) will not be looked after by any other group, even by those who are labeled as my fellow-citizens under one law?
What happens is a simple and inevitable process. First I begin to not talk to my fellow citizens - after all, they do not understand my struggles and even if they did, I do not believe they would help me with them. I then move to passively working to support my group in the face of the other groups. When, as I undoubtedly surprised to find out, others do not see things my way and in fact are perceived as harming my group's interests, I move to actively creating opportunities to better my group at the expense of others.
When this happens, of course, the larger organization - be it a marriage, a business, a church, or a country - is poised for failure because we no longer trust that anyone else in the situation is going to back us up and "look out for us" and that we would better off on our own.
My fear, of course, is that we have already passed that point. And if the point has been passed, dissolution in some form or fashion cannot be far away.