I’ve been under the weather today, so I’ve had some time to think on things while I lie around on the couch and occasionally check the internets for interesting and distracting things.
And the thing that I’ve been thinking about today is money. No, not how I can get more of it so that I can be closer to a 1%-er, but the stuff that’s written on it. Last week, the House of Representatives took time away from what ought to be its busy schedule of working on the country’s legislation to nearly unanimously pass a resolution reaffirming the nation’s motto as “In God We Trust”. Which is interesting because it really isn’t under attack and had been re-reaffirmed by the Senate as recently as 2006.
The folly of political grandstanding aside, the act got me thinking. Did you know that it was officially passed as the nation’s motto in 1956 during the Red Scare days? I wonder if perhaps the house was just practicing for when we have another Scare in which the Chinese replace the Russians?
So, previous to “I Love Lucy” were we a mottoless nation? Well, not really. In 1782, the pre-Constitution Continental Congress adopted E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) and that motto was used on the nation’s currency and many of its seals for nearly two centuries.
I’ve always liked “Unum”. It was originally conceived to represent the coming together of the colonies to form a nation, but in the intervening time has come to encapsulate the “melting pot” theory of the U.S. That the promise of America is one in which our diversity makes us a better nation, a stronger people. You know, like what we learn in school and are taught by Schoolhouse Rock.
Of course, if you look at our public discourse of the past 15 years, I don’t think we’re practicing what we’ve preached very well. I see self-interest groups turning on one another in uncivil ways and with previously unprecedented vehemence – and much of it coming from an entrenched white, “Christian” part of the population. Because apparently diversity in America is great as long as we don’t get too brown, or Spanish-speaking, or gay, or abortion-allowing, or non-Christian, or gun-regulating – take your pick – and begin to displace the long held majority.
In fact, I argue that maybe it IS time to re-examine our national motto, because it seems to me that there’s been a little too much focus on “God” in our policy discussions and not enough respect for the “Pluribus”.
What do you think? Sound off and take the poll!