We’re coming through one of the most publicized and hyped presidential elections in recent years.
As the outcome becomes clear, there’s a whole lot of public anger and resentment. It’s not just that your man won or lost. No. It’s that our vision for our country has been altered. Truly, a healing needs to take place, and that can only happen as we come to the common ground of American values and beliefs. But, therein is the problem.
We’re no longer one nation under God. America has become many different peoples, striving against one another to keep their own wants and desires, without much concern for the common good. We’re no longer a “melting pot,” and perhaps we never were, rather, we’re a delicatessen of flavors and tastes, each vying for its own way.
Let’s understand that “America” is a name derived from Amerigo Vespucci, and Italian explorer who followed Columbus (1501-2). It was left to a German map maker, Martin Waldseemuller, who recognized from Vespucci’s notes that Columbus had discovered a new continent. He named the continent “America.” By November 15, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, we were recognized as the “United States of America,” and we were called “Americans” from that time on.
American means “home ruler” in old German. We can say that an American rules his homeland. In this sense, we’re a democratic republic,” but whereas, a republic is supposed to have equal representation of its people, it has not worked out that way. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives has turned into a very partisan group of elites, who appear to care more about getting reelected than helping our people.
The immigrants that came to America and continue to come, set up little enclaves, where they preserve their native identities. My Irish ancestors came to America and were not well received. In fact, there was a time when job listings in local newspapers would end with NINA...”No Irish/Italians need apply.” Such discrimination is not remembered. But, over time, these immigrants learned to be Americans.
In light of this, I do not call myself an “Irish American.” I’m and American. To identify oneself with a particular group, political party, socio-economic philosophy, or religious belief, detracts from our national identity as Americans. It sets us in opposition to each other and creates the divisions that we’re now seeing.
In my book, Earthman, I write about this phenomena as “tribalism.”
“Tribalism is the natural characteristic of us Earthmen. It has far reaching consequences. Most human wars arise out of local, and then tribal, and national identities. Classic among such conflicts is WWII, where one man, Adolf Hitler and his “Aryan Race” pitted the German tribes against the rest of the world’s tribes as being superior to them” (pg.13).
A careful examination of the weekly shootings in say Chicago, reveal that these violent acts occur between street gangs (tribes) in turf wars.
Certainly, our Declaration of Independence, which “holds these truths to be self evident,” was written with the common belief that “we’re endowed by our Creator...to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” An American believes in preserving life, especially the lives of children, and he believes in the freedom to speak, write, and assemble, and he believes in freedom of religion. Throughout, he believes in a government that leaves him alone and affords him the opportunity to “pursue happiness.”
Cultural diversity is not good for a nation, and neither is having open borders. There needs to be a common language, a common history, a common territory, a common rule of law, and a common body of beliefs for a nation to retain its identity.
Partisan divisions may be natural, but they should not define the character of a nation. Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (1858). There needs to be conversation and cooperation across the aisles of Congress. All 535 members of Congress are Americans. We have to believe that, and in so doing, we must believe that the democratic ideals of our republic will draw them all together.
But, this goes back to our basic, American identity. Who are we as a people? Are we persons who have come together because we love democracy and freedom, or, are we a hodge-podge of different tribes, languages, and cultures, holding on to our own wants and desires? Time will tell.
It is important for us to remember that it was the Judeo-Christian ethic and belief that held us together over these 244 years. But, that ethic has slowly and judicially been taken away. Everything from taking prayer out of schools, to separating church and state, to legislating new sexual standards, to redefining marriage, to a bogus social-welfare program has crippled our commonness.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, diplomat and historian wrote the book Democracy in America in 1835 after visiting our nation. He observed that “American is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
You may ask, “What is good?” Americans innately knew what is good up until this century. The standard of goodness is the Bible and our state papers. The light of the Judeo-Christian ethic shined on our culture and kept us on track for greatness. That’s where we must return, if we want to “make America great again.”