01/11/2011 05:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

We Are Not Enemies

2011-01-10-USGreatSeal300x300.jpg-USGreatSeal300x300.jpgWe are not enemies. The American motto on our Great Seal is "E pluribus unum," meaning "From many, one." Therein lies our strength. Whenever we let others trick us into "Us versus Them," it weakens us. As Ben Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776: "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." This is just as true today as it was 235 years ago.

There are people who would like to divide and conquer us for their own benefit. Good words like "conservative," "liberal" and "progressive" are being twisted -- and we know it. People ignorant of history claim "Anybody different from me is not a REAL American." Like the many ingredients that make steel, our diversity is what makes us strong. So remember the old cowboy joke -- "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut." -- and when people seek to divide us, ask: "What's in it for them?"

You have heard it said that in order for one to win, another must lose. Not True. If you and I both have an idea, I don't know which idea is better until I listen to you. In fact, when we listen to each other, we often come up with a third, even better idea together. Is it possible that two heads are better than one? So let our response to each other be not to attack, but to listen and say: "Tell me more."

America is the land of change. In New Mexico we say "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." As in biology, where the most adaptive organism wins, remember that if we don't change, we go with the dinosaurs. We have changed and conquered: kings, slavery, robber barons, child labor, depressions, concentration camps, führers, chain gangs, lynchings, segregated schools, recessions -- many things. Now we are an advanced, big, complex 21st century nation. We live on the Earth, a small spaceship on which we all depend. The coming changes in technology, culture and business are really just more challenges that can make us stronger and more mature in our place among the nations of the world -- a nourishing bowl of breakfast cereal if we stick together, severe disruption and decline if we don't.

Some people say that America is through, that Americans need enemies to unite them, that if we don't have one, someone will make one up, whether external or internal, foreign or domestic. I don't agree. Only weaklings need enemies where there are none. It is a waste of our strength and weakens us. Ultimately our only enemy is ignorance. As FDR said: " The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself."

When we disagree, let us remember and say to each other: "You are not my enemy. You cannot make me your enemy. That is my choice and I am strong. Even when we contend and compete, we are working together and I will always be your friend."