What Is Our Shared American Experience? Without One Are We Doomed?
It started today as we kicked off the Morning News radio show with Lance and me trying to recall a song that listed a variety of body-type descriptions of different people. I don't even remember what triggered the mental search, but I came up with the song "Spill The Wine" by Eric Burdon and War from 1970. (which ultimately WAS the song I was looking for) It contains the lyrics:
I was taken to a place
The hall of the mountain kings
I stood high by the mountain tops
Naked to the world
In front of
Every kind of girl
There was long ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones
Black ones, round ones, big deal ones
Out of the middle, came a lady
She whispered in my ear
And Lance, well Lance came up with the Armour Hot Dog jingle, you may recall:
Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs what kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs? Fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks, tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chickenpox love hot dogs, Armour hot dogs, the dogs kids love to bite!
Where Is This Headed?
Well, as it often happens on our show, (like every day) one thing led to another, and I wound up searching for a jingle and found an excellent article from the LA Times from June 30, 2017.
The article said you couldn't write such a jingle today because of the expected backlash for fat-shaming and gay-bashing. (heck, throw in HIPPA violations for - even kids with Chicken Pox)
The author says that the Armour jingle was then (1967) and this is now (2017) as an illustration of far apart we have drifted from each other and how we need "shared experiences" to bind us together as the American People. (we are even more "woke" and farther apart today than in 2017)
Change Is Inevitable But Change Like This?
He makes a lot of sense. "The water-cooler effect, of people excited to share with their fellow co-workers something that was on TV the previous night, united a group of unlike people....“Did you see the game?” “Did you hear what Carson said?” “Who shot J.R.?” These are echoes from the past, a past when the regular happenings in America were discussed among all people. We may come from different heritages, but finding common ground made us Americans."
The author's point is that that the American melting pot no longer melts. Where is today's "common ground?" We are self-absorbed, self-directed, and gather up in like-minded bubbles and tribes that recycle the same interests and ideas. We have taken the concept of "diversity" and instead of weaving the best of our differences into an unbreakable tapestry of America, we have pulled apart the tapestry, thread by thread, to recognize and "celebrate" our differences rather than any shared experiences of America.
Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
Afterall, what is Diversity ? "Diversity is about what makes each of us unique (separate?) and includes our backgrounds, personality, life experiences, and beliefs, all of the things that make us who we are. It is a combination of our differences that shape our view of the world, our perspective, and our approach.
Diversity is also about recognizing, respecting, and valuing differences based on ethnicity, gender, age, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. It also includes an infinite range of individual unique characteristics and experiences, such as communication style, career path, life experience, educational background, geographic location, income level, marital status, parental status and other variables that influence personal perspectives[."
The result, the author says, is that we have an IDENTITY GAP - "Nearly 70% of Americans think that America’s identity is fading away based on a poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Do We Have A Shared American Experience?
In the LA Times article, New York Times columnist David Brooks is quoted as suggesting we need to search for and find our shared identities and shared experiences.
So, what are the AMERICAN experiences that Anglo Americas can share with African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, etc.? Sporting events? Fandom of any kind? Arts and Entertainment? Perhaps. But it seems most likely the events that can tie us all together, even if for a short while, are, unfortunately, national disasters. 9-11 did...for a while. But would it work today? Hurricanes, Blizzards, Tornadoes could and sometimes do - but then we divide over climate change. Economic disasters could - but then we divide over income inequality, tax the rich, universal income for all, and more. You get the idea. There isn't an ox that escapes being gored!
The Road We're On?
History Review - What was the shared American experience that was strong enough to bind us together in April 1861? Trick question. Our differences were deemed greater than our similarities. Enough so that we went to war to try to break up.
We used to talk about mom, apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet as being representative of "America". Now, mom is a non-gendered birthing person-perhaps a biological male, apple pie contributes to type 2 diabetes, and the Ag practices to raise apples are bad for the environment, baseball's heroes are foreign players and the sport's headlines are all about cheating and the top four selling vehicles are 2 Toyotas, a Nissan, and a Honda.
Where are we today? What is the shared American experience today that overcomes our differences? The differences we are told and trained to promote and celebrate? Identity politics, political correctness, hyper-sensitivity, left-right extremism, and social media especially all DIVIDE us.
What unites us as "fellow Americans" when my heartfelt patriotism is seen as cheesy, archaic, and triggering to others and thus not allowed to me?
What is the glue -OR- is breaking up our fate?