Dear Switchback Fans,
For someone living in another solar system, perhaps it would come as news that one of the most divisive and cacophonous elections in American history just took place. For those fans outside the US, it probably seems strange, even dangerous, to see America, well, so vulnerable.
And it seemed weird to me as I sat at the Bob Evans restaurant in Kokomo, Indiana, eavesdropping on the folks at the tables around me. People were nervous with this election, and to me it sounded like winners and losers alike shared an uncertainty about tomorrow. People spoke in hushed tones, with heads bent forward and hands nervously kneaded before grabbing their cups of coffee.
I looked around thinking, "There must be some sign that things will be OK."
Then I saw it. It was silhouetted against the rising sun of the morning. And I had to smile as I realized what a reassuring sign it was. It was the American flag, slowly waving in the breeze over the parking lot of the Bob Evans restaurant. I looked at it and realized in the flag there was a poignant message to all Americans and in turn to the world.
One cannot point to a star on the flag and say, "That's the star of Illinois.” There's no way of telling which star is which. Same for the stripes. I can't tell which white stripe or which red stripe represents which original colony. Which one sits above the other.
I can't tell what percentage of the flag is made up for African-Americans or Irish Americans or Italian Americans or Jewish Americans or Mexican Americans. I can't tell if it's a flag for gays, for Catholics or Muslims. I can't tell if I'm looking at a Republican flag, a Democratic flag, or an independent flag.
The irony here is clear to me. By its anonymity, the American flag represents everybody. The marchers on the street carry this flag, carrying with them the representation of the very people they march against. The Republicans waving it at their rallies and the Democrats waving it at theirs wave a representation of the very people they campaign against.
There is a tendency to look at the world through an "us versus them" mentality. In this day and age it seems continually easier to become polarized even though we have at our disposal technology to bring people together. Perhaps it's fitting to look on our flag as a wonderful creation that reminds us that we cannot succeed through division. That our very willingness to live under the flag means that we must be willing to live as one people. And just as taking a star away or ripping a stripe renders the flag no longer the flag, so too the country.
Yes, it is a tumultuous time, and yes, we walk in uncertainty, but if we look at the flag, even one waving over a chain restaurant, there is hope. And that we as neighbors have the responsibility to continue to love our neighbor as ourselves.