Like trying to buy back something you never owned, I don’t think we can unite again since we were never really united in the first place. We have come together with common purpose from time to time when facing truly national threats, but these are extraordinary situations rather than the norm.
All human beings, in America and everywhere else in the world, join together in bands, and gangs, and tribes, and communities. We do this for the safety and comfort to be found in the company of other people who think and speak as we do; who eat the same kind of foods, tell the same kind of jokes, sing the same kind of songs. We do it so we can live our lives with the confidence of familiarity, to minimize the unexpected, and to hear our views as a chorus instead of a solo.
From the beginning America had its factions. At the time of the revolution the country was divided roughly into thirds; one third supporting independence, one third supporting the crown, and one third taking neither position. We’ve always divided ourselves by customs and regions and occupations. City/country, factory/farm, north/south, east/west, mountaineers/flat landers, coastal/plains–you get the picture.
We haven’t lost our unity, we’ve lost our capacity to see people who are different as full-fledged Americans just like us. We’ve lost the ability to accept people who are different and good naturedly leave them the hell alone.
A long time ago I saw a movie in which a character from a foreign land was explaining about his people. He said, “We’re are separate and different, like fingers on a hand. But when our country is threatened we come together, like fingers make a fist, and we work together to defeat our enemies.” Not a bad way to ’ celebrate the diversity’.
I don’t think we, as a people, are all that different today than we were a hundred years ago. What has changed is the amount of space between us . In years gone by we might be annoyed by the person on the corner shouting his views through a megaphone. Today, everyone has a megaphone, and you can’t avoid them simply by walking on the other side of the street. You’d have to walk on another planet and even that may not work. Modern megaphones are too loud, too pervasive, too anonymous.
Live and let live can be a useful attitude to cultivate. Outside of certain bedrock principles of right and wrong, I am content to let others live as they see fit, make their own choices, suffer their own consequences. I leave them the hell alone and ask only the same in return.
We have always been a nation of differences; it is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. Apparently there are today certain groups who seem to think they can perfect America if only they can make everybody…insert cause here.
America is not perfect, it’s just better than anyplace else. None of us should allow perfection to be the enemy of what is good.