In the children’s story, Chicken Little, Henny-Penny runs around saying the sky was falling. There’s a similar cry in “Unrivaled,” an essay by Stanley Bing. In it, he lists comments by pundits, past and present, who predicted that the sky was falling for American dominance on the world stage. He begins with the threat of communism, then moves to Japan’s economic influence and finally, to China’s rise to power. (“Unrivaled” by Stanley Bing, Fortune, 4/8/13 pg. 108)
Given all these dire predictions, the United States remains the primary economy of the world. Bing wonders why and ends his speculations by telling a story. It’s about an Albanian cab driver he met recently, a women who fled to the United States to escape political oppression. While she taxied Bing to his destination, she took one hand off the steering wheel and waved in a 360 circle at the wild scene of Midtown Manhattan. “This here,” she exclaimed was “the best place in the world.” (Ibid. pg 104).
The truth is, if many natural born Americans were asked to comment on what the cab driver said, they’d counter with an argument. They’d remind the woman that our government is ineffective, that the economy is growing at a scant 2%, that the job market is lousy and that wealth in the country is unevenly distributed. And that’s just a start. But I’m guessing the cab driver would reply that the government may be ineffective but it isn’t tyrannical, that the growth rate is low but the United States is one of the few countries in the world where there is growth, that the wealthy are getting wealthier, but there is still room for the American dream. Look at her. She’s a woman making a living as a taxi driver in Manhattan.
I think that Albanian cab driver got it right when she swept her hand around in a 360 degree circumference. She was pointing to diversity, that civility in disharmony. The United States is full of arguments whether it be gun control, abortion, or whether the blue states or red states are setting the right course for the country. We are a nation roiling in the stew of free debate. Generally, solutions arise from that debate.
Except for a handful of American Indians, all of us trace our origins to a foreign shore. Somehow, we have come together to live in peace, and we do — through good times and bad. Diversity is our strength because in seeking solutions to our problems, we’ve learned to compromise. May our Congress and the rest of us never forget that.
(Courtesy of www.allposters.com)