Thursday, September 16, 2010

Indivisibility: the American superpower

Photo by Ludovic Bertron.  Licensed via Creative Commons.
What is the American superpower?

In February 2001, on the radio show This American Life, John Hodgman explored an "age-old" question:
 If you could have only one superpower, flight or invisibility, which would you choose?
Listening to that show recently, I wondered whether as a nation, we need to ask ourselves a similar question:
America, what is your superpower: fright or indivisibility?
The answer would seem pretty straightforward.  We all know FDR's call to courage, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."  The pledge of allegiance ends, " nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a Birmingham Jail:
Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
In other words, if you are here, you are "us."

So it's pretty clear that indivisibility wins out over fright, right?  Well, John Hodgman said that people sometimes waver between which superpower they favor.  So it is not surprising to see that in America, we sometimes argue whether people here are divisible from us.  The Great Immigration Panic is an example of that.

My point is just that this is a choice of superpowers.

I think we've already chosen what kind of heroes we are. We are indivisible.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah here John, "if you are here, you are us" is beautiful. Thank you.


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