We’re a nation, America, and it would be healthy for us to act like one again, rather than like two diametrically opposed nations attempting to bunk together. If you’re a student of history, you already know that never ends well.
I traveled to Qatar recently. Over my 10-day visit, I witnessed a remarkable sense of national pride in that tiny, howbeit oil-rich nation off Saudi Arabia. And not just from wealthy associates of the royal family from whom you might expect such glowing nationalism, but from limo drivers, restaurant and shop workers, the many Indian nationals, Sudanese and Ghanans, all there on temporary work permits. I know this because I made a point of asking.
“It’s not perfect,” said one friendly cabby from Ghana, “but I love it here and would not want to live anywhere else.” A BMW hotel driver from the Philippines echoed his sentiment, one heard repeatedly from opposite parts of the economy in the diverse and growing city of Doha.
Sadly, I don’t hear that kind of national pride very much at home these days, and the rest of the world has taken notice. “America’s a real mess, isn’t it?” I heard from more than one person on recent trips abroad. One even suggested, “Tell them you’re from Canada; it will be safer.”
Granted, there may not be quite as much room for dissent in Qatar. Larger-than-life images of the emir are ubiquitous, some reaching more than five stories high, stretched across architecturally stunning high-rises. His image graces the rear windows of most taxis, private cars and shop windows. However, I didn’t get a sense that forced adulation was at all the driving factor behind their national pride.
I’m old enough to remember when most Americans shared that same sense of collective pride in our great and free democratic republic. Most of us were proud of our still-learning nation and of the unprecedented opportunity it offered us, making it the most prosperous on earth in a relatively short two centuries. Regardless of political affiliation or station in life, most would have proclaimed, “It’s not perfect, but I love it and would not want to live anywhere else!”
But it seems we have become increasingly intolerant of one another’s political views, and as a result, ceased to “love our neighbors as ourselves” as the Man of Peace so famously instructed us to do two thousand years ago (He is “Jesus” in the Christian tradition, “Isa son of Mary” in Islam and “Yeshua” in the Jewish tradition). We’ve allowed self-interested politicians and news channels to pit us against one another, benefiting them, not us. And we’ve become all about our politics – when did that happen?
I understand. The pundits and the news channels need our votes and ratings. But we need our lives.
Would that all my fellow citizens reverse course before it all becomes intractable; before we’ll wish we had. And please remember that we don’t need to love or even like everything that happens under “this administration” or “that administration.” When things don’t go our way, it’s not the end of the world – unless we want it to be.
I’m not suggesting we disengage or stop lobbying for what we believe in. That’s always been an integral part of who we are. But kindness and tolerance is in order again as we are citizens of a single nation. The next time you look into the eyes of your children or grandchildren, try to see them as young Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans destined to struggle with the other until one side or the other is “defeated.” They deserve better, and so do you.
Contrary to the wishes of self-interested partisans and media pundits, we would do well to tune them out and live our lives, listening to less of the irritating 24/7 news cycle that sounds more like fingernails on a chalkboard with every passing week. Just because cable news channels have drawn into their respective corners only to come out swinging, doesn’t mean we should – they make money doing it. We don’t.
We’re a nation, America, and a truly amazing one at that.
Like the Man of Peace suggested, wouldn’t it be refreshing to frequently “love our neighbors as ourselves” again in our One Nation Under God?
Dave McQuade founded cable network Z Music Television in the mid-1990s and has served as a media executive and consultant for 40 years. He lives in Durango.