Sometimes it seems all we focus on are the ways in which we’re different.
And we act like those differences are just too deep to overcome — far flung as we are across this wide, oft-divided, star-spangled nation. But then, I’m reminded of our shared story lines.
You can’t tell me you don’t recall with fondness the cardigans and life lessons of Mister Rogers. Is there a person in this country who doesn’t smile when asked “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Do you remember the first time you watched ET? The moment when “phone home” took on a whole new meaning? Or maybe your favorite movie memories were dreaming of running through the song-filled hills in The Sound of Music or tapping your shoes together to get back home in The Wizard of Oz.
Did you fall in love with a spider named Charlotte or imagine living Where the Wild Things Are?
You’ve probably stood in awe, alongside friends and family, as you watched fireworks burst in bright sprays of color on the Fourth of July. You’ve memorized the skylines of New York and Chicago.
Don’t try and pretend you don’t have a favorite Michael Jackson song. Is it Thriller? Billie Jean? Black or White?
You firmly believe baseball is the all-American pastime. Or maybe it’s football. Regardless, you can probably speak from experience about our ability to tailgate. Perhaps THAT’s our all-American pastime. It makes sense really; what better way to combine our love of food, friends and fun?
What about apple pie? The way the ocean looks from our long and winding coastlines? Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett?
We have fond memories of PB&Js and first bikes and Dr. Seuss. Jump ropes, and apples for teacher. Then we graduated to Madonna and Mustang convertibles. Hamburgers, Harleys, home runs.
What about the times we’ve cried together? Over the Challenger space shuttle and 9/11. The times we rejoiced together, too: Over feats of science and engineering. Computers and modern medicine.
What do you think of when you smell fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies? Do you get giddy with excitement when you think about Americans landing on the moon?
Sometimes, when it feels like we’re fractured and splintered in so many pieces, we have the chances of Humpty Dumpty of being put back together again, I have to think of the ties that bind us to our neighbors.
I wish I could blast Michael Jackson and dance with all of you, my beautiful neighbors.