We have noticed something on this trip. Something that perhaps we have heard of, or even known intellectually before, but the experience this particular tour of our country has been more vivid. Something that today, frankly, bothered or perhaps even worried me.
You have heard it said (if you are a follower of politics or current events) that we are “Two Americas”. John Kerry’s folks would have you believe that the two Americas are the Democrats and Republicans. Those for the people and those for Big Business. Those for the middle class and those for the super-rich. Those for health care and jobs and education and a smarter war on terror, and those against all of those things. Broken down even more, it is the “tolerant” vs. the “religious right” who only want to bind people with their stuffy morality.
There is definitely a divide in America today stemming from personal spiritual convictions and particularly how those play out in public – mainly legislative – life. Those worlds will never intersect. The closest we came was when our country was founded by folks trying to escape the tyranny of religious oppression and live here together governed by a common morality and a person’s conscience, rather than a large government making people behave correctly. Life was just about as it should be then, when God was a welcome member of our society… He was indeed the foundation.
But today, and on this tour we have noticed a different set of americas. Indeed, there are not only two, but MANY.
One of the greatest things about our country is that we are quite multicultural. People from ALL backgrounds can come here and make a life for themselves in the most richly abundantly blessed country that has ever existed. They can come and join in this great nation that is the USA.
In fact, our coins talk about this. The latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is inscribed on our money, reminding us all that we are many from one. Literally, I believe it’s “From Many One”. How great is that?!? I love that you can look at any ethnic group of people in the world and they could be Americans. We are so diverse in not only appearance, but in culture. We have so many different heritages. Festivals, sections of towns, and many other things celebrate our uniqueness.
But perhaps we have gone too far?
My next words may sound a bit bigoted or intolerant. Just wanted to warn you. I do not hate anyone. Quite the opposite. But I think we are losing our greatest strength.
We are so quick to celebrate our diversity, that we do not really encourage unity. We have African-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and on and on and on. We are all tied by the second part of that hyphenated phrase… but, we are still hyphenated.
And in a thrift store in Incline Village, NV today, we were out numbered by the people who DO NOT speak English. And that really bothered me.
Now, I speak Spanish. So, I could communicate with them. No problem. And if they were just visiting, obviously no problem. I have said for years, because of my experience of growing up overseas, that Americans are stupid, self-centered people who only care about themselves and not other nations cultures and languages. To an extent that is still true.
But these Spanish-only speakers are EVERYWHERE. Really. If it was just by the borders of our Spanish-speaking country to the south, then it would be more understandable. Two countries will obviously spill on to each other and require a certain degree of bilinguality. But we are allowing a HUGE number of people ALL over our country to not just maintain their heritage or identity… but to NOT merge into ONE culture.
I do not want everyone to be the same. Diversity is something God gave us that I believe, since we are made in his image, reflects his supreme diversity. He is unfathomable in his diversity.
But… it says “From Many…. ONE”
We don’t have any of that going on.
We hire spanish speaking workers (as at a McDonald’s we were at). We have Spanish signs in public buildings. We have spanish TV… etc, etc, etc.
My point is not that Spanish is bad. My point is, shouldn’t we all have SOMETHING in common besides paying taxes (which many spanish speakers may not be doing… but that’s another topic…) A language is a uniting thing that does not squash heritage. It does not castrate your ethnic identity. IT MAKES US ONE.
So, from Incline Village, NV to Bentonville, AR, to Boulder, CO, to yes… Los Angeles, CA…. Spanish is not only spoken, but often is the only language spoken.
It seems to me that it may be in our best interest to stop thinking we are being tolerant and move back toward unity of our country – our Two Americas – by being ONE NATION again. Celebrate diversity, yes, but let’s have everyone learn to speak our COMMON language. Let’s make one from many. Not just a bunch of manys living on one continent.
Just my opinion from our travels these last months. Take it for what it is. I am not a bigot. I am actually quite fluent in spanish…
But, let’s do some E Pluribus Unum-ing!!!