In his inaugural address, President Biden called for unity, saying, “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”
Our nation’s motto, e pluribus unum (out of many, one), is itself a plea for unity, as is the name of our country. But what exactly is this virtue we hold so dear? A nationwide chuckle at the Zoom cat? Agreeing on policies? Or just keeping your mouth shut when your neighbors put up their “All Aboard the Trump Train” flag or “No Human is Illegal” sign? Certainly, unity is a truth upon which our nation sits. President Abraham Lincoln knew this. In his inaugural address, Lincoln rejected the effort by seven states to secede from the Union, stating, “The Union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments.” We know from our founding documents that Lincoln was right. Our unity predates the Constitution, which was established to create a “more perfect” union.
But how can we unify if we disagree on, well, just about everything?
We have given our passions an outlet and truth and justice a fighting chance through our Constitution. By maintaining a system of limited government and holding free and fair elections, we give breathing room for our political differences. But the foundation stones of a better unity go beyond the rule of law. Lincoln believed that “the mystic chords of memory” would “swell the chorus of the Union.” And what a history we have. From the American Revolution to our written Constitution, that is the aspiration of free people around the globe, from defeating the forces of evil in World War II to landing a man on the moon: These are the uplifting mystic chords that can swell the chorus from coast to coast.
So let us watch the Olympics. Let us discover Mars. Let us root for the United States against China in the battle for economic dominance. Let us have the courage to find a common cause in shared moments. And then, let us build on those moments to advance our better future.