“E Pluribus”….. What?
One of my favorite past times is to reflect on things – that is probably part of my visionary and part of my analytical side coming together to play together. This time, after the RV trip I took with my family and mentioned in a previous piece, I find myself reflecting on the motto for the United States. I reflect on this not just because of what I have seen and experience on that trip. I reflect on this not just because of my general observations and understanding of the U.S. I reflect on it mostly from a philosophical and spiritual standpoint – from the question: where is humanity and where are going?
From that perspective, it is fascinating to observe people’s unique actions, statement, and reactions. It almost seems as if it is the prerogative for many people to feel that they need to take care of themselves first. I would almost call an instant if it wasn’t for being able to compare different lifestyles and understand history, as this approach is actually a trained instinct. It begins to take hold when we are young children and many of us are either being taught that the only thing that matters is ‘family’ meaning the blood-family, or when some of us are being left to our own devices as young children either because our parents are not able to provide the parenting or they have been taken from us. This leaves many human beings in a situation where they consider ME first. At the same time there are others who focus on building different bonds and thus create a “community” or “Family” of a different kind: one of like-mindedness, like-heartedness,or like-agendaness (if these are currently exisiting terms). We can see this in different cultures across time and space. The decision on where the focus is, is actually a choice.
Observing this with a special view onto the United States, which used to be the haven for immigrants who were looking for a safe place and for the land of opportunities, is particularly interesting since the motto is: “E Pluribus Unum”. That, of course, means in simple terms “Out of many make One.” So, are people in the U.S. “one”? That is a philosophical aim that likely requires a bit more detail and thus leaves the interpretation up to us. When being in the United States the answer to that question: “Are we One” – just looking around your own neighborhood or traveling around the country as I recently did – is clearly No. The Oneness that the slogan of the United States lays out as a vision has clearly not been achieved. Just consider the associated question of “what is the stereotypical U.S. American”? What qualities does that person have? What beliefs and values? What does that person look like?
For sure we all look different and that makes for a wonderful diversity. Do we all share the same beliefs in values? If we did – would we argue as much? Bicker as much? Attach and judge each other as much? Is there a common bond that transcends blood family? Is there even a bond beyond “ME”?
In challenging times like we are facing globally and with added opportunities in the U.S. this question jumps to the forefront as is aims at asking: who matters more? Does the individual matter more than the group? Is that even a fair question to ask?
Consider that it is even more important to take a look at it “many or one” and to begin to reflect on in challenging times. The question becomes whether or not what happens to One person might also affect ME. Now it may have a different ring to it.
To be direct, I am running into many people who say, for example, “I don’t have COVID-19 – so all is good.” They may not be fully aware of the fact that this is a global pandemic or see other countries’ methods of dealing with this challenge. At the same time that statement makes sense in many ways. Of course it is good for you. It gets interesting from there when we take the next step and the question moves to whether your view or statement changes if somebody that you care about is affected by COVID-19? Is it still all good or are you now going to change your behavior or approach or research into this dis-ease?
Of course, it does not have to be COVID. It can be cancer it can be arthritis, it can be an allergy – it can be losing your job, you can be evicted from home … it can be all sorts of things that we consider big or small. When we approach any challenge or opportunity from the perspective of “ME first” until we feel a more direct impact — are we actually creating ONE or MANY (division)?
This question of “E Pluribus … What” is one that goes to the heart of who we are, who you are, who I am. It is deeply connected to our beliefs and values – to what we stand for. It is, in all actuality, a question we need to ponder and reflect on more often than in challenging times as it influences all our choices and we have the power over our choices, even if we choose to follow others without researching for ourselves. Thus, these days, and especially in times like we are having right now some of the historical underpinnings and various cultures and views come to mind when looking at where we are right now. So, let me ask you, in your opinion: Are We one? Are we many? What are we as the human race? How do we complete that motto for our own lives, for the country we reside in, and for the world?