Links of a Chain

David - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Yesterday I found myself arguing with one of my good friends about how America should best go about fixing the economy. As we talked, I kept racking my brain for ways that I could best explain myself in such a way that he would realize that I was right. I used an emotional appeal here, an ethical appeal there, maybe threw in a piece of sarcastic irony every few sentences. But later, as I got ready to sleep that night, I saw that I still felt as strongly as ever about my opinion, as did my friend. It had been a rough game of ups and downs, and yet we ended up no different than when we had started.

As Americans, we see these types of battles occur every day. The fight over abortion, gay marriage, as well as off shore drilling. The list goes on and on, and it seems to point to one final and ultimate conclusion: that the United States of America are anything but. Yet, we rarely see differing opinions go beyond an argument or rally. It certainly raises the question of how such a multi-sided country can be so cohesive, so foundationally strong that it remains one of the world’s superpowers. The answer is that our base comes not from unity, but from acceptance. That our ability to be inclusive to those who hold a belief that most usually blatantly defies that of our own is what gives us true strength.

I believe that when our pace of getting things done appears modest, it is not a statement of slow progress, but that of effective decision making. I believe that the partisan system of government is not a hindrance, but a buffer. And I believe that the opposing views that many Americans possess are not a burdensome bump in the road, but a safety net that is used subliminally by all of us to stop us from making an uninformed and brash decision. And in the times that it might seem difficult to watch our constant debate while at the same time declaring us united, we must remember that we are not inclined to believe that we are united in the way that you might describe a completed jigsaw puzzle. We are united as the links of a chain or branches of a tree might be, as separate pieces of a larger, stronger whole that sometimes might stray opposite ways.

As I lay down and began to let the thoughts of the argument with my friend sweep over me, I began to smile. I smiled because I knew that sooner or later we would have the same argument again, and I found myself formulating debates and topics so that I might finally persuade him to join me in my understanding. But I think, more than anything, I smiled because part of me knew that wherever he was, he was doing the exact same thing.