The Fact That America Even Works At All Is Crazy

07/05/2017 02:57 am ET Updated Jul 05, 2017
Pete Souza, US Archives

Imagine that tomorrow morning, a couple of million people from every nation on Earth woke up on a giant island and were told, “Okay guys, you’re a country now. Figure it out!” That would sound crazy to you, right? And it’d sound crazy to them too! And they’d probably have a lot of conflict and problems. On paper, it sounds like it wouldn’t work at all.

But here’s the thing: That’s basically America. In the blink of an eye in the scope of human history, a measly few hundred years, 330 million people descending from every corner of the world ― every continent, every religion, every ethnicity, every tribe ― ended up in one big country together, trying to make it work. Some came under good circumstances, some under horrific ones, but now we’re all here in the most diverse large society the world has ever known. We are the first truly global civilization. For better and worse, we’re doing something that’s never been done.

So of course it’s going to be hard to get it right and we’re going to have enormous internal strife: this whole enterprise is completely insane! The fact that we even function AT ALL as a society is TOTALLY MIND BLOWING. The rest of the world is only beginning to catch up to us in its sheer collision of humanity, and just as our founding documents created a blueprint for self-government in capitals around the globe, Americans figuring out how to live together in one big country today can lay a foundation for the polyglot societies of the future.

When you think about it that way, the American experiment does seem pretty groundbreaking and historic, right? That’s why even with all the heartbreaks along the way, I’m glad to be part of this crazy endeavor, and part of trying to help figure out how to make it work.

Happy Fourth.

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