We Still Have More in Common than We Realize
Reflections on Traveling in America
In the last two years, I’ve crisscrossed America by car (and plane) multiple times, living in Virginia,1 Colorado, Utah, and Michigan. I’ve spent time visiting Kansas, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Massachusetts. And I’ve spent at least one night in Ohio, New Jersey, West Virginia, Missouri, Wyoming, and Kentucky. Along the way I’ve passed through many other states as well.
That includes some very blue places and some very red places and some places in between blue and red. There are things I like and dislike about the red places, and things I like and dislike about the blue places, but I generally feel at home – in one sense or another – everywhere I go in America. I don’t think that says anything particularly special about me, but rather that – for all we seem to hear about the supposedly irreconcilable divisions in our country – we still have a lot in common. Today, I want to reflect on that commonality.
I won’t pretend that we don’t have problems. In my travels, I’ve watched the explosion of homelessness in America’s cities and I’ve encountered people (even friends) who are ready to turn their backs on their fellow Americans. Nor will I pretend that there aren’t major differences between various regions of America. I’ve lived in places where the local library had drag queen story hour at 10:00am and places where farmers draped billboard-sized Confederate flags on the sides of their barns.
But there is a time to reap and a time to sow, a time for war and a time for peace. And there is a time to vigorously debate national problems and a time to be quiet about them.2 In the spirit of July 4th (although today isn’t the 4th), right now I’d like to reflect on what we share.
Nothing in Common?3