If you had asked me fifteen years ago what I thought the greatest threat to America was, I would have said terrorism. If you asked me three years ago, I would have said cyber warfare. If you were to ask me today, given all that is transpiring in the world, I would say that the greatest threat currently facing America, is Americans themselves.
I hear it often and everywhere, “America is at a crossroads”. If that is true, the perspective with which we view the impending intersection is going to determine the fate of this nation. Our view will shape our actions, and our actions will shape our future.
I find that most people view this approaching intersection from the perspective of standing at the base of a “Y” or “T”. They view us as driving at breakneck speed down a road, rapidly approaching a position where a decision must be made. Our choice is limited, left or right. If this is your view, it is possible you are part of the problem. This is the perspective that will destroy America.
Implicit in this view is the concept of a winner and a loser, divisiveness, and failure. This view leads to a contest for control of the wheel, with disregard for the outcome and its impact on everyone else in the car. With this view, the choices are narrow, and absolute. We will make a turn, and one path, and many people will be left behind. People act much differently when they perceive the outcome to be a matter of life and death. It is the difference between a conversation and a cage fight. You are with me, or against me.
How did we get here? When did the man or woman who does not hold similar beliefs go from being your neighbor, to your enemy? When did it become more important to scream at the top of your lungs, as opposed to listening, and respecting what others have to say? How have we forgotten that those we are disagreeing, arguing, and fighting with, are not our enemies, but our fellow Americans? How have we become a society graced with 20/20 vision, but no ability to see?
I have no doubt we are at a crossroads, but our perspective is upside down. We are not at the base of the “Y” or “T”, we are at its apex. There are roads on our left and right, converging at an intersection, then moving forward, together. The destination is uncertain, and it doesn’t really matter, there is only one road leading there.
I prefer this perspective because it forces you to remember that our journey is not about the individual, it’s about America. It reminds me that there is something to be learned from everyone, and opinions that are opposing to my own do not make them less valuable, it just makes them different. It reminds me that if we are going to share the road, I have to allow space for others, and their beliefs. We need two hands on the wheel, both don’t have to, or need to be mine.
I distinctly remember the days and weeks post 9/11. There was a sense of unity that I had never experienced. There was an incredible display of red, white, and blue, but it was so much more than that. You could feel it, a sense of compassion and unity. You could feel it in conversations, interactions, and even how people drove on the freeway. It faded over time, but it was there when we needed it. For a short period, we embodied the nation we are supposed to be, and it was a beautiful thing. We came together, instead of tearing each other apart.
We will not survive our current trajectory, there cannot be two Americas. The road to our future is bumpy, and there is no doubt that we will be pulled over for reckless driving multiple times along the way. Even with that knowledge, I would rather head towards an uncertain future together, than continue on our current path towards the destruction of America, divided.
It is going to be difficult, it is going to be painful, embrace it.
Change your perspective.
United we MAY stand.
Divided we will CERTAINLY fall.