By Pastor George Kelly
The citizens of the United States of America historically have prided themselves in the principle of E Pluribus Unum (out of the many ONE) as opposed to the concept of “Ex Uno Plures” (out of one becomes Many).
The United States of America is a nation that has accomplished what many countries have failed to realize and that is a unity of its people amidst great diversity.
Last week, this journalist, cited two significant works by two different scholars who possessed divergent political views – the Economist /Professor Thomas Sowell author of “Ethnic America” (1983) and the late Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. the author of “The Disuniting of America” (1991).
Professor Sowell is a Libertarian / 19th century liberal and Mr. Schlesinger was a “New Deal” liberal of impeccable credentials. Nevertheless, despite the deep difference of philosophical opinion of these two gentlemen on many different fronts – the root causes of The Great Depression would be a case in point – they both loved America and believed in the “genius” of America’s ability to absorb so many people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, nationalities.
Perhaps we have flourished with regards to “assimilating” so many different peoples from all over the world for such a long time that we forgot the causes that make for national harmony / unity?
Political Scientists employ a term known as “political socialization” to describe a nation’s process of successfully assimilating people of different nationalities.
What does political socialization entail?
First and foremost, immigrants who arrive within a nation must adopt the dominant narrative of their new nation’s history. This is why significant days such as July 4th (Independence Day) are vitally important. July 4, 1776 reminds Americans why they came into existence in the first place.
Secondly, there must be a “common language.” In the past, various nations had to adopt what was known as a “lingua franca” – a language of commerce before they could engage in business or trade with one another. In the United States, English is the dominant language – and has been since the first colonists arrived at James Bay in 1607.
Without a common language, America would experience anarchy similar to what is best captured and described by the Biblical narrative known as “The Tower of Babel” which is recorded in the 11th chapter of the book of Genesis. Oddly enough the word “Babel” means confuse or confusion…
Thirdly, new immigrant arrivals must “buy-in” to common traditions and implicit rules of engagement that are not always expressed, but clearly understood by the dominant population. In America we refer to “the rules of the game” and “fair play” and that we are “a nation of laws and not men.” We respect a soft “separation of Church and State” without resulting in violence towards others who disagree with us.
Finally, political socialization means that a nation helps their new arrivals to understand the prevailing “worldview” which undergirds their institutions of Law, Government, Ethics and Morality.
In the current volatility that takes place during the midst of our fierce and vociferous debates on Immigration policy, it is so easy to forget the ideas, factors, and principles that made us what we are and what are essential to our continued survival and flourishing as a nation.
Americas must take a few minutes to breathe and to take stock of who we are and what we wish to remain as we march forward into the future.
Change must come, but how do we successfully change?
The old adage is that there are only two constants in life and they are death and taxes.
Nevertheless, the United States has managed to negotiate tremendous change and upheaval because at its very core the principles of her founding have remained constant and inviolable.
In a work of fiction that this author read not too long entitled “Deadlock” by James Scott Bell, one of his characters – a former associate justice of the Supreme Court speaks to the current Chief Justice in the story – and proclaims that the founding of America was based on an outlook of reality derived from “Biblical Metaphysics” (the associate justice was referring to “The Declaration of Independence”).
Perhaps it might be a good exercise to read and re-read our founding documents.
Perhaps we could start by repeating “The Pledge of Allegiance” in our minds and hearts each day during the course of our day:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.”
Some food for thought?