by Glenn Mangurian
"E Pluribus Unum" was the motto proposed for the first Seal of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. It is a Latin phrase meaning "One from Many." The phrase reflected their determination to form a single nation from a collection of states; our pledge of allegiance is also explicit regarding the notion of unity – “… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Our pluralistic society has always been a collection of ideologies, but currently our politics has devolved into tribal conflicts. Each tribe believes it is right and the others are wrong. Put simply, many believe we are in a battle between good and evil and their own leaders will save the country while the others’ leaders will destroy it. This war of ideologies shows up daily in social media depicting tribal adversaries as enemies in an emotional civil war. Each side is quick to demean those with opposing views using vitriol and assigning derogatory labels to those supporting rival candidates. I suspect the current acrimony is a far cry from America’s founders’ vision of a healthy republic.
Columnist Michael Gerson recently wrote in the Washington Post about the characteristics of a healthy republic:
Civic health is best measured by the strength and legitimacy of institutions, even when they produce outcomes we don’t like, and by the vigor of norms, even when unenforced by laws and penalties. A healthy republic depends on respect for the rights and dignity of citizens on the losing side of an election; on the ability of legislators to make rational compromises without being accused of ideological treason; and on officials who honor traditional, self-imposed limits on the exercise of their power.
We look to the President-elect to unify us, but doesn’t that effort start with us and our need to listen more than we speak? Those who voted differently than us are not our enemies. As much as I may disagree with their opinions, I choose not to demean them for they will continue to be our neighbors, family, and friends; isn’t it on us to work together on building ideological bridges to islands of common ground?
I believe there is more that binds us together than pulls us apart. The discovery process won’t be easy but the stakes are worth it. We are present day stewards of an imperfect democracy with the responsibility to form a more perfect union. With humility and an open hand, we can make progress on advancing the American experience.
Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community.
In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.
Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.