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  • Writer's pictureDavid Redding

CHAPTER TEN: The Splitter

It is our nature as humans to unite into groups. We are driven to it by our internal desire for security and significance, and neither of those impulses can be satisfied on a solo basis. So, we come together with others for our mutual benefit.

But, as necessary as it is, a group is neither a static nor permanent thing. It is a living organism that once formed begins to die unless some of its members fight to keep it alive. These are its warriors of the united who actively engage in struggle and conflict to keep the group together. The struggle is over the existential continuity of the group. The conflict is with those who would see it cease to exist—the splitters who would disunite the group for their own self-interested reasons.

Without warriors of the united, no group will survive for long, whether it is a vast nation or a book club. No matter its size or how loosely organized it is, every group relies upon warriors dedicated to its existential continuity because they are all locked in a struggle with the splitters for their own survival, whether they realize it or not.

Some splitters are external. They see the group’s death as advantageous to themselves or the group to which they belong. At its essence, this is tribalism. I seek to disunite your tribe because your tribe is (or I perceive it to be) a threat to my tribe. Thus, the death of your tribe makes my tribe more secure. And, if I am recognized by my tribe as the principal agent in the demise of your tribe, I gain significance in my tribe—an added benefit to me.

Other splitters are internal. The motives of the internal splitter are more complicated than those of the external splitter. He might see the destruction of his own group as a pathway to a level of significance that he cannot achieve otherwise, believing that a new group will rise from its ashes that will better secure his interests. Or he could just be a damaged person who idolizes misery or even a sociopath who is incapable of caring about anyone that his efforts harm.

In the end, the motives of the internal splitter don’t really matter. He exists and always has. Together with the external splitter, he is the agent of THE Splitter, that dark and fallen angel whose primary aim is to split us off from our Creator. The Splitter is a disuniter (and always has been) because he knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Standing together we can resist him, but isolated and alone we are low-hanging fruit for his demonic purposes.

The Splitter’s efforts to disunite the group place him in direct conflict with the Minivan Centurions who are fighting to keep it together. Without them, the Splitter will prevail no matter how powerful, wealthy, and long-standing the group may be.

Take Rome as an example. Together, the Roman Republic and Empire lasted nearly a thousand years, about four times as long as America has existed as a nation (to date). Rome owes that millennia of its existence in large part to the efforts of its centurions.

The centurions were the apolitical servants of Roman nationhood. At the height of Rome’s power, they were drawn from the ranks of the loyal citizenry who had a vested interest in the existential continuity of the nation. Dispersed to the far reaches of the empire, they were the agents of Rome’s projection of power and the guardians of its prosperity.

The Roman Senate was (as senates tend to be) shot through with ambitious men striving to reach or stay in the elite class and seeking the power and trappings that went with it. The average centurion cared nothing for that. He was a man in the field, living out his compromised adventure and doing the dirty work required to keep the nation united.

Gradually, that changed. Over time, the Roman Empire became increasingly reliant upon foreign mercenaries to staff its centurial ranks. Skilled warriors as they may have been, their allegiance was not to Rome—it was to themselves or the clans from which they originally came. When the Visigoths and Vandals sacked Rome, these men stood by and (in many instances) helped. Despite its power and longevity, absent sufficient warriors of the united, Rome fell prey to its external and internal splitters because it had become disunited.

In our relatively short history America has had its share of external splitters. Against some (like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) we have been forced to engage in outright warfare to preserve our existence. Other splitters have operated more insidiously, seeking our national destruction through less overt means. Rather than engage us directly on the battlefield, they concentrate their efforts on slowly and methodically disuniting us. This was the strategy of the Soviet Union, and it is now the strategy of Russia and Communist China.

A united America is a potent enemy. Hitler and Hirohito learned that the hard way. But a disunited America, one that can no longer rally around a core set of essentials, could be pushed over like a tree whose root system had rotted out from below. All it would take is a strong gust of wind from the Splitter at the right time and we would fall.

What keeps that from happening is America’s warriors of the united. Unlike Rome, these are not professional soldiers (although some are), but rather the ordinary men who possess the courage, strength, and commitment to subordinate their self-interest to the security and significance of their families, communities, and the nation. They are the guys wearing cargo shorts, driving their Family Trucksters and living out their compromised adventure as best they can in the home of the free and the brave.

They are the Minivan Centurions—the good drivers and coarse twine that binds us together in the face of the determined efforts of the Splitter to see this nation fall.

1 Comment

John Orton
John Orton
Nov 17, 2021

Each week waiting for this is almost as exciting as that next "Ted Lasso" episode. The Minivan Centurion stands in the breach. Reminds me of this song by Jackson Browne.... "Standing In The Breach"

And though the earth may tremble and our foundations crack We will all assemble and we will build them back And rush to save the lives remaining still within our reach And try to put our world together standing in the breach So many live in poverty while others live as kings Though some may find peace In the acceptance of all that living brings I will never understand however they've prepared How one life may be struck down and another life be spared And though the earth may tremble and cast our works…

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