“U” for United

Seldom is there such a week as the United States experienced last week. The attack on the Boston Marathon and the horrific explosion in West Texas focused a spotlight on what makes Americans the people they are. United.

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Do we have a wide variety of political opinions? religions? ethnicities?  tastes? —Perhaps the broadest range of any country on the planet. These are not the things that unites us. Humanity does.

It is in adversity that the true heart of a person, of a people is exposed.

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Americans have always been generous. We come to the aid of the world when there is flood, earthquake or famine. Are we perfect? Of course not, but when we are made aware of need there are always more volunteers than can be utilized.

But when our country, our central beliefs in self expression, freedom of speech, the pursuit of life, are threatened or attacked, we shine bright as the symbolic flame carried by Lady Liberty in New York harbor.

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Patriotism. The good side.

In moments of terror, our humanity trumps any thoughts of patriotism. We help, we sacrifice, we put our time, effort and very lives on the line.

Are we unique? Of course not. People around the world shine in such moments. Is it our affluence that enable us to volunteer in such numbers? Perhaps that is an element, but there is something at the heart of an American that propels him to place his own safety aside, to go that proverbial extra mile.

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To every positive there is a darker side.

               Americans have very short memories.

Perhaps it is the very affluence that enables us to act that also wipes our memories clean in short order. We are constantly inundated with information. Tomorrow there are a hundred other news events and causes vying for our attention. We are so plugged in that we tend to tune out things that have scrolled by, in short order.

Had the mechanism to vote on reasonable gun registration for all been poised on December 14th 2012, it surely would have passed. With a four month lag, the bill was defeated. Even with the presence of families shattered by the Sandy Hook tragedy, our national attention had long shifted to other horrors.

The controversy over the election Of George W. Bush—the hanging chads, the decisions in Florida, the uproar over the need for electoral change—quickly forgotten.

Even the horrific 9/11 mass murder has slipped into the national rear view mirror. Knives allowed back on airliners? Amazing.

Where does the outrage, the indignation go? Is the power of instant social information also its damper?

What do you think?

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