Promising and alive, few things in this world offer a more joyful hope and unbridled pleasure than spring. To be sure, the trilling birdsong, the glowing daffodils and the awakening trees all work their magic to defy the darkness and division of our time.
For those who can perceive this wonder of nature, it is inexpressibly beautiful; not even the wind can dampen the pleasure and peace that God’s creation so freely gives. This land of ours is truly extraordinary, a fact that becomes clear to me every time I step out of my door to wander the streets of my neighborhood. Incredibly, these simple digressions of mine, teaching me to move slower and look closer, have revealed a surprising but deeply rooted truth: the beauty of spring is fleeting, but that of my community is not.
Indeed, in the people of this area, I see the very epitome of the American dream come to life. Driving to work, I pass expertly tended fields and towering herds, both of which testify to the diligence and tenacity of farmers and ranchers. Sitting at the traffic lights, I watch the construction crews build with confidence and skill, and when I wait at the auto shop, I marvel at the mechanic’s experience. The sheriff who turns to help the stuck driver, the plumber who miraculously fixes the clogged drain and the landscaper who pulls beauty out of the hard earth every day earn my admiration and gratitude. Not only do they do what I cannot, but they do it in a quiet, modest and sadly unappreciated way. Even so, they are the ones who built and beautified this civilization that I love so much.
Of course, also the mother who, with a child at her side, argues with her exuberant children in the neighborhood park. The vendor at the supermarket who helps me find my favorite cereal, the bank teller who corrects my calculations and the bartender who makes me the day are equally instrumental in shaping and preserving this country. In fact, in every way I turn, I meet people who have invested so much of themselves – their time, their knowledge, their dreams – in making America the miracle it is. Although it has been in front of me all this time, I am only now beginning to see this country for what it truly is. The United States is a land of extraordinary ideas manifested in ordinary people; it might be far from perfect, but this place is still extremely cool.
It doesn’t matter what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard, however, when I turn on the television, open a new book or walk into the cinema, I encounter a completely different America. It is a country torn by hatred and lies, a people divided by skin color and political fidelity, a civilization burdened with shame and guilt. This other America is a place where children, far from being carefree and curious, are confused and scarred by radical gender theories, and where they are taught to despise the country they were born in. In this alternate place, people who exercise their natural rights to speak and think freely are wiped out and silenced by hateful crowds who hurl insults and insults. Strangest of all, in this other America, the leaders of the country destroy without thinking and for no reason what the people themselves have, for generations, built so diligently and painstakingly. It’s a bad America, but luckily it’s not the only America.
No, in fact, because when I turn off the television, close the book and leave the theater, I find myself looking out once again, both myself and the narrative, and into America that is real. That’s why, in the hardware store, I don’t come across racists, but rather neighbors who work to build their lives. When I’m in the park, I don’t meet the Nazis, but I meet families who dream of a better future. In church, I don’t worship with white nationalists, but I do with friends who wish to support their community. In fact, the Americans I meet in everyday life look very different from those I see on TV; they are human, they are imperfect, but they are also real. So is America too, so look away from the screen and into the eyes of the people who live life just outside; there you will find humanity, community and every hope of a future other than that of TV.
Courtney A. Crowley is a history teacher at West Texas A&M University. The comments here represent your views and not those of WTAMU.