It has now become common knowledge that media and politicians alike often focus on the threat of attack from foreign powers to push their own agenda, whether it be a new bill, policy, executive order or ratings. The problem is, while many realize such agendas exist, we still allow them to divide us based on an us vs. them approach. The fact of the matter is, even the most simple problems facing Americans today are not black and white, and our failure to realize the complexity of the issues only leads to more problems.

Military might

First of all, you might think that a such a statement as a mindset creating a bigger threat to Americans' freedom than a potentially hostile nation with nuclear capability seems unreasonable.

However, if you look at the numbers, you will see that threat may not be as great as you have been led to believe. While tensions may at times be high, the U.S. spent $596 billion in 2015 on defense in 2015. This is not only more than China and Russia combined, but more than the next 7 countries combined (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan, respectively). Our massive budget and worldwide presence make any hostile action an extremely risky proposition for aggressors - even when alliances are formed.

That doesn't mean attacks on American citizens couldn't happen, but the fact is we remain the largest military power in the world - by a wide margin. Not only that, the United States and our allies hold a massive economic influence throughout the world.

An attack on American citizens by a single nation or a small alliance, even such as Russia and China, would have massive consequences for the attacking country. Any such attack, would likely only happen as a result of provocation.

Moral dualism

William Perry's model of Intellectual and Ethical Development was developed in the 1960's and 1970's.

It has since been noted that, while the model may have some flaws in regard to variations in individuals and the methods used to obtain evidence, it is also a useful tool in reference to the learning habits of students. The model states that students move through four stages development as they mature. The first stage is dualism: During dualism information is received and accepted from sources which are viewed as having authority, but the information is not questioned.

Problems are seen as having a correct and incorrect answer, or black and white. The next stage is multiplicity, in which students realize differing opinions matter in the course of finding solutions and there may be multiple solutions to a problem. The third stage is relativism: Knowledge is based on context and fact. Evidence and sources, even experts, are evaluated with a skeptical approach. The final stage is commitment with relativism meaning that while a relative and skeptical approach remains, students have committed to personal values and beliefs. They realize that beliefs can, and should, change with new knowledge.

Perry's model illustrates what is happening on a political-social scale in America.

We seem to have either reverted from commitment with relativity to dualism, or not matured past dualism at all. We blindly accept the evidence provided by anyone we perceive as an authority, be it a politician, news company, celebrity or our peers. We do not question evidence we believe will solve our problem(s), but we disregard evidence which contradicts our beliefs. We fail to adjust our beliefs to new knowledge, or simply reject the knowledge. While we, as a country, fail to recognize the complexity of the issues we face, we allow ourselves to be divided into two sides: left or right; conservative or liberal; republican or democrat; black or white; LGBT or heterosexual. The fact is these issues can not be solved by two opposing views alone. They do not have a right or a wrong answer. They have good solutions, and bad solutions - the only way is to analyze the evidence and adjust our views to come to an effective solution.