I couldn’t find it inscribed or stamped on anything stuffed in my pockets, at first. I’ve long since given up on carrying loose change. The rattling and clinking drives me mad. And the $5 and $20 bills I did scrounge up? Well they trust in God, evidently, but not in people and union (and not in Latin).
Enter Wikipedia for some background on the phrase, “e Pluribus Unum”: The traditionally understood meaning of the phrase was that out of many states (or colonies) emerges a single nation. However, in recent years its meaning has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions, languages, and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation—illustrating the concept of the melting pot.”
At the moment, that feels like a stretch. There doesn’t appear to be much Unum crystallizing from all the Pluribus, if you catch my drift.
And one of the articles I read first thing this morning suggests that it’ll be awhile. In uncertain times, I turn to the sage advice of an American hero. Well, not really. British comedian Ricky Gervais popped up on my Facebook feed. No hilarous videos of his finicky cat or funny-faced bathtub photos. This time, Ricky told me to read an article he considered the best or most important of the year. It is a long read, but go for it.
The CliffNotes version? Humanity is poised to go to hell in a handbasket, according to well-documented historical trends. We are staring over the edge, into the abyss, and there is very likely nothing we can do to keep from taking one more numbed step and falling for quite some time. And in fact, we may already be in free fall.
Holy shit, right?
Probably not the smartest choice on my part to choose that particular apocalyptic piece to set the morning’s tone. Thanks a lot, Ricky. I’m going to need way more videos of your house cat and your goofy, cross-eyed faces in the bath to make up for this terrifying shit you’ve now planted in my head, Ricky. In the future, please Rick, we need from you more of this —
The good news — and by the way, if you haven’t figured this out by now, there is ALWAYS good news — is that the kids are truly alright. Or at least they will be.
I say this, first, because the post-election data I’ve seen suggests that the young folks have their heads on straight and understand what “north” looks like on a proper moral compass. Here’s the map —
Turns out this map was actually based on a pre-election survey, and therefore likely depicts somewhat of an exaggeration. But even still, you get the point, yeah?
Second, we got the teachers. Yes we do. I am the product of two school teachers, and I have been the beneficiary of some wonderful teachers along the way who are not my birth parents. But the teachers my kids and your kids are exposed to nowadays? Off the charts amazing. My 10 year old’s 5th grade teacher emailed me an article about an hour ago that rescued me in the midst of chewing my fingernails completely down to the quick. A perfectly-timed antidote to the fire and brimstone piece suggested by my sadistic friend Ricky. (Thank you, MK!)
It’s another long one, but again, I say go for it. The soaring speech (from which I lifted today’s “EPU” theme) comes down to the teacher’s vow “to help to make this residential school an example of a tolerant, loving, diverse, serious, hard-working, supportive, unbreakable community.” Amen, brother. Amen.
I say this, lastly, because of the kids themselves. On a more granular level, we have reason to be optimistic because of kids like Jackson Lyon. He is the son of one of my wife’s dearest high school friends. Check out this post on Facebook, and see if it doesn’t lump up your throat as it did mine —
(I did’t ask for permission to post this, so hopefully Jackson and his family are cool with my sharing with you how inspired I am by Jackson’s words.) I think I’ve only met Jackson once, and I think one of us was wearing diapers at the time. Seems he’s all grown up now, or nearly so. If Jackson is any indication of what lies ahead, I think we all have reason to feel hopeful. E Pluribus Unum.
Thanks for reading.