While listening to my favorite sports talk show this morning (Mike and Mike on ESPN), Mike Greenburg mentioned in passing that at flag-rising ceremonies, like the Olympics, “you just get a lump in your throat.” He’s right. I do. And I think that’s wonderful. It’s always a good excuse to take that big step backward that we all need from time to time to remember that, for all its faults, there’s no place in the world we’d rather live.
Lord knows, we have plenty of divisions to deal with, and plenty of topics that pit some of us against others of us. If we tried to count them, we’d be here all day: politics, government, global warming, Wall Street, health insurance, welfare, hunting, SUVs, cell phones, texting, reality TV, talk radio, smoking, PBS, marijuana, bad driving, Happy Meals, Michael Vick, Nancy Pelosi, Brett Favre, Rush Limbaugh – add your own 10 or 20 here.
And we have plenty of things about us that seem to provide the world reasons to disapprove of our culture, like our wretched excesses and banal preoccupations (like Lindsey Lohan and the Kardashians). But once you take that big step back -isn’t it wonderful that we are so big…so open…so diverse that we can have all those differences, and pursue all those obsessions, without killing one another over them?
Being “American” isn’t the least common denominator. It’s the best one. I believe it’s that great big “melting pot” thing that keeps us, more or less, moving down a nice, centered path. Extremists can be heard, but seldom win the day. Together, we’re too smart for that. In this great big tug-of-war we’re involved in, the knot may move back and forth, but it stays pretty much over the mud puddle, and no one loses. We always self-correct, eventually. And that keeps happening because of our unique system of government, our culture, and yes, even our Read the rest of this entry »