My cycling days are draining but this week I was reminded and reflected on the motto of the United States – seen imprinted on its currency and its buildings – which is E Pluribus Unum: “Out of many, one.”
It happens that this is also more or less my aim in my life, to take the many parts of myself and turn them into a unified, coherent soul. Each of us is made up of competing desires and impulses and needs, yet all of this is part of who we are. More importantly, with cycling, Ginger, work, volunteering, and study, I’m anticipating this will one day find its proper place.
On a larger level, living well is as a kind of civic duty we should each own. All of us are from different regions. But share a common goal. If you step backward you can observe how we, ourselves, are melded and absorbed into a larger process. Time and distance and technology collapse temporal and geographic and cultural boundaries so that we may become one. Part of the same whole, the same community with a collective goal.
Unfortunately, we are losing that unifying thrust these days. Each day we awake, look outside, drink our morning brew, and forget about our health and our communities mental health. As the documentarian, Ken Burns often jokes, “there is too much Pluribus and not enough Unum.” There’s too much focus on our individual selves and our differences and not what we hold in common or what joins us together. Our community is Unum, as a friend of everyone, let us stand stalwart as a united front focused on being well. Being you, being unique and sharing in your commitment to helping others.
But what’s our immediate tragedy? What point are you making Brian?
Look, we are living in a world of needless strife and conflict. Which is why today, as you walk the streets, ride your bike, or explore the aisle’s of the Costco, think about you and the people around you. Because the best way we can become part of something larger than ourselves is through sharing in what we have in common. What do you have in common with a stranger? For Ginger, it’s “Puppy-Love”! Unity will always be better than division.
Many is better than one, only when the many become one. But it starts…with you.
Say hello to someone today, smile, thank yourself for who you are, and know I struggle as well but together we can share the same path to Unum.
By Brian Nadon