Published Mobridge Tribune, January 6, 2016
After the columns about the supremacist Islamic jihad we face and our almost unbelievable response or failed response to it, I wish to return to the ideas I was writing about before the California terrorist attack. It might be helpful to review some of the first columns that I wrote.
In my first column on Sept. 16, I talked about how happy many of us were with the America that we grew up in. America was a country we believed in, and that seemed to work. In my second column on Sept. 23, I talked about how distrustful most Americans have become with our government and our major institutions. Polls showed that 54 percent of adults do not believe we have a government that is “of, by, and for the people.” Sixty-three percent of voters do not believe the federal government today has the “consent of the governed.” Fifty-five percent felt they were frustrated and another 30 percent described themselves as angry with the federal government. Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell called poll numbers “unprecedented…pre-revolutionary.”
In my third column on Sept. 30, I introduced comments from Dennis Prager who said we have not passed on what it means to be American. We have lost the why. We can no longer articulate what American values are and we don’t know what we stand for. We are our problem. He introduced three important American concepts that can be found on our coins–E Pluribus Unum, Liberty, and In God we trust.
E Pluribus Unum means “Out of many, one.” What is this oneness? Americans have always been a diverse people even going back to the original Americans. From this diversity we have expected people to also join in an American oneness. That process worked well for many years. We now seem to be having trouble even defining what that oneness is. I hear leaders talk about what is “American” or our “American values.” Sometimes they focus on our appreciation of diversity seemingly without a concern for the importance of a oneness that is also important to our tranquility and prosperity.
America is a different place than many other countries. If you moved to France, Germany, Japan or China, how long would it be before you were considered French, German, Japanese or Chinese?
In America, many different people can accept our basic values, and become Americans quickly. Unfortunately, we Americans are becoming part of our problem including our immigrant integration problem. We are losing our common appreciation about what being “American” and our basic “American values” mean. I’m concerned we are not just losing this oneness from our minds but also in reality. Some people even argue that to expect people to become “Americans” is a form of cultural genocide and we should praise America’s multicultural diversity. How much is it true that our diversity is our strength and how important is our American oneness?
Darrel Smith writes a weekly column for the Mobridge Tribune. He is a South Dakota businessman and the owner of ChristsInternet.com