Things are spinning out of control. Worse, America is pulling apart. 

It’s not just that we have political or cultural disagreements: they’ve existed since America’s founding, then the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam. Today, our challenge is that so much focus is on how we are different — that we are different. It’s not only politicians who look to divide us — looking to win, get retweets or raise money. It’s not just media commentators playing to their base for ratings. 

It’s in our schools — “oppressors” and “victims.” It’s in our workplaces. It’s ingrained in our universities. It’s heard in newly invented words and phrases: “micro-aggressions,” “white privilege,” “cultural appropriation.”

While that’s happening, there’s a related cultural war. Progressive activists who’ve “progressed” from debating what they think the Constitution means to actually questioning the legitimacy of the Constitution. And now demanding that statues of Washington, Jefferson, and William Penn be removed. 

The idea is that our founding document is morally and politically flawed and should be ignored. And that our founders ought to be forgotten at best, ridiculed at worst.

Without a shared history and shared faith in our Constitution, breaking us into opposing groups only makes things worse. Pulling us apart as we’re standing on quicksand.

Whatever happened to “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?” 

For many, the sentiment is no longer in fashion. Too many focus on making us “divisible,” focusing on what pulls us apart, not brings us together. Many argue that unifying as Americans is a bad thing, or at least not a goal to be valued — that America itself is not worth defending.

The phrase is from our Pledge of Allegiance — written after the Civil War in 1885. Yet the sentiment goes back to our founding as a nation. Our American Constitution was written “in order to form a more perfect union.” And to “ensure domestic tranquility.”

In 1776, the very first Great Seal of the United States had a motto — we see it today on our money: E Pluribus Unum.

Out of many, one.

In 1776, America was not yet a nation. No common history or common culture. No single language. No common land where their parents were born.

Our new nation was made up of a mix of people, some who had been here for generations, some for months. Most from Great Britain, but many from across Europe. And, yes, our great but imperfect nation would struggle with how to include those who were immorally treated as slaves. The new Americans were farmers, merchants, craftsmen and clergymen. Lutherans, Calvinists, Episcopalians, Agnostics, Atheists, Deists, Quakers, and some Catholics. Educated and uneducated. Most spoke English, but some spoke French, German, or something else.

They didn’t have a lot in common, or so it would seem. Ours is a nation created because of ideals. Liberty. Religious tolerance. Opportunity. For the first time in history, a nation was founded not based on language, religion or landmass; but, it would be founded on values. 

We used to hear unifying phrases like “our diversity is our strength.” America was often referred to as a melting pot. Others preferred a “patchwork quilt.”  Be it a pot-luck stew or a blanket to keep you warm, the ideals were the same. We are different, yet similar — and together we make things better.

Out of many, one.

Yes, it would ultimately take a civil war, a president giving his life and federal legislation to bring everyone into that “more perfect union.” But, the clarion call was a union.

Even in the civil rights era — a century after the Civil War — the idea was to make sure that all were a part of America. Those marching wanted to be fully part of America. Their frustration—even understandable anger—was because they wanted black Americans (and Hispanic and Asian) to be part of America. They didn’t want to tear it down.

It wasn’t that we all had the same beliefs or political views. People weren’t marching to be the same, or to give up their individuality. They were marching to be part of the union: the American Dream.

If you traveled through America in 1776, 1876, or 1976, you wouldn’t think that Americans all looked the same, talked the same or thought the same. What unified them — and what’s supposed to unify us — was a shared belief that America is special, unique, and worth pursuing — worth making more perfect.

Even in the 1900s as America experienced exponential growth from more and more of Europe and across Asia, too, there were ethnic communities based around religious or ethnic commonality. We were Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Polish-Americans. But always “Americans.”

As Neil Diamond sang: “Freedom’s light burning warm..Everywhere around the world, they’re coming to America”

I’m not looking at the past through rose colored glasses. Neither everyday life, nor America, was perfect. Americans had their faults and their flaws, and so did America.

But the sense was that we celebrated our individuality and our unity. When things got out of hand by someone breaking a law or breaking a custom, there was a process, legal system, or a cultural push to fix it. To create a more perfect Union.

Somewhere along the way, our “leaders” — including political, entertainment and civic thought leaders — began to focus on the differences and not the unity. The focus moved away from creating a more perfect union to questioning America itself — seeing it as flawed, morally questionable. Suggesting that we give up on the whole nation — our Constitution, founding and founders.

In short, over the last several years as things are spinning apart, a new dangerous “motto” has taken over: Out of one, many.

This is especially the case when we are told that “white” people shouldn’t run taco trucks. Or that, perhaps, wearing ethnic attire — when it’s not “your” ethnicity — is “cultural appropriation.” 

The “melting pot” is springing a leak, and no one is rushing to repair it. Rather, there are dozens and dozens of smaller pots, with new “pots” created everyday. The American “quilt” is being torn apart and no one is rushing to repair it. And many are making their own blankets and making sure that no two blankets look the same.

America — the nation founded on ideas and ideals — needs leaders to pull us back together.

We need not think the same — heaven forbid that we do: our diversity is our strength. We do not need to dress the same, or practice the same faith (or worship at all), or read the same newspapers, or listen to the same podcasts.

But, what we do need is a consensus that America is a special union, albeit imperfect. That the American experiment is a good thing — a very good thing. And that our families, our communities and, yes, the world is a better place if America survives and thrives.

That the most ethnically, culturally, religiously diverse people with the most wide-ranging ideas and philosophies in history is great because of those things. 

Out of many, one.”

Guy Ciarrocchi is a Senior Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation. He writes for Broad + Liberty and RealClear Pennsylvania. Follow Guy @PaSuburbsGuy

3 thoughts on “Guy Ciarrocchi: America — Out of many, one”

  1. Politically correct speech is a disease that allows evil ideas to take root. “Be nice, be kind” is a massive issue.
    There has been a deliberate dismantling of American values and institutions by both Oligarchs and communists (both groups hate the United States of America and the idea of a strong middle class) to over-ride both the traditions of the country and the will of the people. The U.S. values (in God We Trust, marriage, and Puritan ethics of honesty, responsibility, hard work, and self-control) and U.S. institutions both sustained and advanced U.S. society for more than two centuries. Both have been under steady attack since the 1950-60s. Trump Administration was the only effort to deliberately disrupt the constant war machine since George H.W. Bush (CIA) to Obama. Trump as a man has terrible faults. We all do. He lost my vote because he made fun of POWs. Even if he is in prison, Trump will get my vote because he is the best choice remaining in the race. AT least Trump as a President was a patriot: he has a feeling of love, devotion, and a sense of attachment to The United States of America. His executive ability to field a team is poor at best. But Trump is better than the alternative choices. Maybe RFK, Jr. The rest of these purchased politicians do not love the United States more than their self-interests, and they do not work for the people – including Nikki Haley. Haley is owned by the war industry. The war industry pushed for Ukraine to be part of NATO so Ukraine would be required to buy their weapons and take their IMF deal. The CIA worked hard in Ukraine in 2014. Yes, I voted for Hillary Clinton, but Covid woke me up to the constant propaganda and lies. Most adults do not have an inkling of an idea the ridiculous things SEL teaches our children in public school. We went from “treat people the way YOU want to be treated” (liberty) to “treat people the way THEY want to be treated” (tyranny). Under the guise of SEL programs and “nurturing empathy and compassion,” millions of children are having their minds poisoned by being force-fed actual Marxist propaganda and fake history. Millions of children are being indoctrinated via SEL in public schools which have substituted the accumulation of historical and political knowledge for the expression of historical and political grievances. Public school education has become a weapon.

    1. The irony of you hitting the nail on the head with all that and then not getting the joke of Trump being the biggest scam artist of all.

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