It was a remarkable day, wasn't it, with everyone focusing on the sun and its eclipse. People of all races and ages and political persuasions were putting aside all that for a moment with a greater, single unified focus. All the various tribalisms gave way, if only in our attention, to a passing sense of our common plight and wondrous journey on this small planet dancing around a minor sun, tucked away in a far corner of a galaxy among billions of others, flying through space at greater and greater speeds.
I was reminded of our unofficial national motto, found on coins and often repeated—the Latin phrase, 'E Pluribus Unum,' one from many, or "out of many, one." That's the brilliance of our history as a nation. We weren't founded on the traditional basis of "soil and blood" that's so common for national origins around the world. We didn't all always live here or come from ancestors who did. We're not all related by the tightest weaves of family and tribe. We have originated from many places and nations, and out of many religions and views, and yet we came together under a single set of ideas to unite us as the classic hope of the world.
In the gym today, my workout partner Don and I talked about tribalism and the global imperative. We can't survive as a species and as a world unless we're ultimately able to rise above the identity politics and splintered nationalist affiliations that spark anger and hatred and wars. Carl Sagan and other astronomers have worried that we've never had verifiable contact with an advanced civilization from another planet, perhaps, because intelligent beings always destroy themselves before they can engage in extensive intergalactic communication or travel. We seem to be rushing down such a path ourselves, with hot spots around the world, and nuclear weapons poised for action while irrational rhetoric heats up with threats and warnings. Perhaps we need a new attitude focused on our commonalities. Maybe even the celestial event of today can remind us of this. It's easy to do globalism badly. It's easy to do anything wrong. As Aristotle suggested with his favorite analogy of an archery target, there are lots of ways to miss any bullseye, and there is only one place to hit it precisely right.
I would encourage all of you to ponder this. Let's find ways of celebrating our differences, while valuing each other and rising about the tribalisms that threaten us and our future. Let's find something to focus on that will unite us and not divide us. Any other path will lead to an eclipse that no one will want to see.