The story is our country is deeply divided. I read it on the Internet. I see it on Facebook. If I turn on the TV, some person with a very serious expression tells me that America is coming apart at the seams. Occasionally, I'll even hear a term like civil war thrown around.
I hear that we're having class warfare. The rich, I'm told, have their boots on the throat of the poor. I'm told that corporate profits are higher than ever because companies are using unemployment as a club to keep the worker down. I also hear that the poor want to use government to steal the wealth of the wealthy. The word on the street is millions of Americans don't want to work, and there are women who have babies just to get more money from the public as an entitlement.
I'm told the only reasonable solution to our problems is to either reelect or fire our president, and that the very fate of our nation hangs in the balance. If the President gets another four years, it seems our country's economy will never recover. But if the other guy makes it, we're going to go to war with Russia and China and possibly the entire world.
I'm told we can't agree anymore. Americans can't work across party lines. Our only hope is for the good guys to Win and the other guys to Lose. It has to be this way. America is in such a state of civil and moral decay that wickedness rules our land. Corruption is the norm. People can't be trusted.
That's the word.
It doesn't sit well with me. Not at all. It doesn't sit well with me because I know Americans. I am one. Most of my friends are also Americans. I run into a lot of Americans everyday. Most of them are strangers. They are almost all nice, wonderful people. At least to me.
I know millionaires, and billionaires. I am personal friends with executives, even CEOs of some of the world's largest companies. The most striking thing about them is how remarkably normal they are. Some of them are profoundly warm, kind-hearted and generous people. They care deeply for our country and want it to succeed.
I also have a lot of friends who struggle at the very edge of poverty, or even live below it. These are hardworking, kind Americans who put in a lot of hours and effort and never get ahead. They are parents. They are siblings. If I was in need they would give what they had to help me.
I even have a few friends now who are homeless. They are kind, and fun to talk to. They live on the edge of American society, and they really appreciate being treated like a human being. If you buy them lunch, they will often talk so much they forget to eat–even though they are very hungry.
I have some friends who are gay. They are funny, kindhearted people and are very much ok with how much of a religious nut I am. They've taught me a lot about dignity and grace.
My friends are as diverse as our species. No one resents me for being white. No one accuses me of unfair treatment.
A lot of my friends are conservative, both in terms of politics and religion. And these people love me deeply and sincerely even though I am prone to very unorthodox thinking. They don't hate me for my thoughts, and they don't hate my friends who are on the other side of their ideologies.
I am blessed unreasonably with friends and family, but I don't know everyone. Today, as I thought about how divided we all are and how we can't get along it hit me. I've never experienced this. I get along pretty well with everyone–even people I don't know. There's supposed to be a problem with road rage, but when I do something dumb in traffic everyone responds to my sheepish smile and wave with grace. When I bump into a stranger in a line because I'm an absent minded fool, people are quick to tell me it's ok after I say "I'm sorry." When I picked up pizza for dinner tonight, a black woman rushed to the door to open it for me and then apologized to me when I kicked the door. She apologized to me when I'm the clumsy oaf.
All of my friends, acquaintances and strangers seem to be really nice people. I don't care if they are urban, suburban, rural, asian, white, hispanic, black, native american, gay, straight, christian, agnostic, hindu, mormon, muslim, conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist, tall, short, thin, fat, rich, poor, middle class, dog person, cat person, i-hate-pets person, young, old or unlisted–everyone is nice to me. I love them all, and they universally respond by loving me right back.
So, America, I refuse to believe the story that we are at war with each other. If we are, you are hiding it from me rather well.
I'm not saying we don't have problems, or that we all agree on how to solve them. I am saying we all love this country–and we all seem to love each other.
So let's act like it. That's how we take this country back.
And if you are wondering if I love you personally, the answer is yes.