I believe in the power of unity.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the heartbroken people of America came together with unshakable spirit. Faced with tragedy on such a massive scale, Americans grieved and cried together, and together they joined behind the flag and the government. As we commemorate the five-year anniversary of the worst act of terrorism ever to hit our shores, those of us who live in America – the same ones who prayed and held hands, vigilantly mourning the first dead of a new war – find ourselves to be polarized. Our strong national unity is gone, whittled away by divisive political tension. Those on the “left” may blame conservative extremism. Those on the “right” could point out liberal obstruction. When I contemplate the five years’ worth of erosion of America’s tight social bond and the constant partisan bickering in Washington, D.C., several questions come to mind. Why haven’t our leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties reached across the aisle for compromise? As a country, how must we look to accomplish anything positive unless we are all on the same boat? I believe it is the obligation of our two-party government to set a powerful example of cooperation for the people they represent.
If we are to move forward and overcome the many serious challenges we now face, we Americans must again unlock the power of unity, embrace it, and preserve it. I believe only a new wave of national bonding can carry us on to achieve lasting success domestically and internationally. As we seek to replenish our dry well of social capital, let us examine our tradition of exemplary guidance. If not for the strong revolutionary commitment in the 1770s, we never would have broken away from the British Empire. This accounted for the courage of our Founding Fathers. It was Abe Lincoln’s compassion and eloquence that helped stitch America’s wounds after the Civil War, re-uniting the former Confederacy with the Union. Fearless and determined, polio-stricken FDR brought America together to achieve economic recovery from the Great Depression, and later, victory over fascism in World War II. Before his assassination, John F. Kennedy tapped the best of Americans’ unified spirit, taming the USSR and beginning the end of the Cold War.
I’ve heard people say this country’s back is broken beyond repair, wracked from war and cultural decay. I refuse to believe this. America has never failed to bounce back from hard times. Over the span of 230 years, no generation has ever let this nation down. But, no success here has ever come without first having a united populous. So, when will this generation of Americans come together and again become the beacon of all humanity’s dreams? Where is the inspiration to do so? Our leaders must emphasize the fact that our common bond carries more strength than our political differences. Furthermore, those in Washington must begin celebrating our differences, not politicizing them with lame divide-and-conquer strategies. The only hope for real, lasting success is moving forward together.
To begin a new era of American progress and prosperity, we must live, govern, interact, work, and speak to the rest of the world standing on common ground. So, where do we find this common ground? Let us only survey the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere who want to see this country get moving again. Sadly, this goodwill is being trampled upon by too many donkeys and elephants. Let us make room again for the common men, women, and young people who reject the notion of red states vs. blue states and believe in a land of 50 red, white, and blue states – united.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.