An anger is casting a shadow of polarization across this country. It didn’t roll in overnight. It slowly descended on us while we were sleeping.

It inspires people to take to the streets, sometimes peacefully, sometimes violently. Neighbors and longtime friends find it hard to talk about it. They fear igniting passions that will shred longtime bonds that will never be reconnected again.

I get it. I’m angry, too.

I’m angry with myself for not paying enough attention to the growing tension that slowly moved into our media outlets and public gathering places, turning civil conversations into vitriolic rants.

Pundits replaced journalists and self-serving opportunists replaced public servants. We should be mad.

We should have been mad years ago,but we were too busy managing the debt we’ve accrued over time to buy the things we don’t need but want. That personal debt is now at around $1.5 trillion nationwide.

Our government failed us. We failed ourselves. Government is supposed to do the business of “the people,” not secure the fortunes of the rich and powerful.

We, the people, are supposed to stay engaged, to remain vigilant to the sustainability of our republic by educating ourselves about our history, not the fairy tale taught in public schools, but learning about the real history that lives in books and periodicals readily available in libraries across this country. This was Ben Franklin’s vision.

There was only one candidate in this recent presidential election that shined the light on these problems. But he fell short, fell short because we have gotten used to our captors and Americans have a long tradition of “changeophobia.”

So now we are stuck with a leader without a map, a brain or an education. Who will pull the covers off the beast that has been sleeping in this country for decades? It won’t be pretty, it will be a slap in the face, but that’s just what we need.

We have to try to bridge the gap that separates us. The powers that be love to see us cannibalize each other.This draws attention away from the back-alley dealings that make them rich.

Divide and conquer. It’s an old trick, but obviously not old enough to keep us from falling for it again.

Left and right, we need to learn to talk to each other, challenge each other, hold each other accountable for what we claim to be true and open our minds to change.

Our futures are in our hands. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17.

We are the people they serve. If we let them divide us, we lose our opportunity to take back a government that, in theory, is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.”