Every four years, our great nation descends into an abyss of chaos. Our election cycle brings out the worst in us. In 2010, I came across this quote from Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican senator in the 1950s McCarthy era. "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny - Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear." How poignant are those words today!
When will we learn our lesson? How many times must we repeat history before we learn from it? A nation divided cannot stand. The real victory for terrorists is that we are divided. We are so concerned about "who is real America" that we have turned on each other. The best way to defeat someone is divide and conquer. We are well on our way to allowing terrorists a win with our xenophobia. Terrorists know that our greatest asset is our diversity. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tossed to me." We used to pride ourselves on being the great melting pot. We are so focused on our differences that we have forgotten that it is just that that makes us admired and envied.
We are the United States of America. Imagine the US as a body. Each organ and body part has a function. Not all are as glamorous as the heart and brain, but each one plays an integral role in making the body function properly. An aching tooth, toe or irritated bowel can cause the whole body to respond. Likewise, each state and citizen represented has a function. Some states are a little country, some a little blue blood, and some wild and untamed. From sea to shining sea, you get to experience it all. Each state and citizen, regardless of race, religion, and ethnicity, is part of the body that makes up the United States of America. It's the making of a good soup or stew. You need the contrasting flavors of sweet, savory, bitter, and tangy to mix and simmer together to produce a satisfying and sustaining broth.
The real America is a jambalaya - rich, poor, wealthy, homeless, educated, liberal, conservative, independent, undecided, uneducated, elite, skilled trades, heartland, hippy, geeky, spoiled brats, drop dead gorgeous, morbidly obese, self-made, farmers, urban, chic, sophisticated, cowboy, lone wolf, nature loving, country wit, evangelical, protestant, Muslim, Hindu, teen angst, rage against the machine, fight for your right, rock and roll, jazz, hip hop, blue grass, Chopin, weekend warriors.
Fifty states make up this body of a nation. Each state is like a family member at a family reunion. Some relatives are cool, others are funny, and others you pretend aren't related (drunk uncle, crazy aunt). But at the end of the day, it's family. We all want our children to have something better for their future. We are family! You don't fight family. If so, the real enemy wins. Muslim American, Irish American, and African American - the common denominator is American. This one time, let us learn from history. The US internment of Japanese Americans is a stain on history.
As we fight terrorism at home and abroad, it will serve us well to remember: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." - Friedrich Nietzsche
This originally appeared on Ronda's blog, Ronda-isms.