Margaret Thatcher once said of Britain, “we must learn to be one nation, or we will be no nation.”
In searching for unity in discord at a time when the traditional values that once underpinned British society were increasingly being questioned, Thatcher often looked to the United States, with some jealousy, as an example of a nation with a unique ability to find unity and patriotic fervour amidst great diversity.
The conclusion she found was that at its best, America was a nation which paid no care to where its citizens were from, but unashamedly required collective agreement on where they were going.
Great pillars of American society underpinned that collective direction of the American mind, from its founding story in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Judeo-Christian heritage, to the great canon of its shared 250-year journey to prosperity and greatness.
As a Briton who follows Margaret Thatcher’s lead to regard America as a shining example of how to accept diversity of background, but deny diversity of direction, I view many of the recent cultural expressions of modern America with great skepticism and concern.
The 2014 Grammy Awards ceremony could hardly have strayed further into debased absurdity than the recent VMA awards display by Miley Cyrus. Yet the decision to place “Queen Latifah” as Pastor to 33 same- and mixed-sex marriages, live on air, rendered to the world a depiction of a nation which had lost any sort of unity or coherent and collective vision for its own or any other society.
The Super Bowl, often the most watched and most celebrated global broadcast of Americana, seemed to continue this trend with aplomb.
In the consideration of the many things which have united America, one of the simplest is often forgotten: its language, a gift for which Britain can be proud.
Among all of the other pillars of American society, it is indicative that even this most fundamental of national tenets is in question.
The now much discussed Coca-Cola super-bowl ad promoted the great American tradition of accepting all of the world’s backgrounds, but promoted equal diversity in its vision for the future.
An America which has no single language, which celebrates a commitment to God and Same Sex Marriage in equal measure, and which, for the first time, celebrates its lack of unity and direction is a nation divided.
Many liberals and progressives will applaud the disintegration of a relatively restrained view of America’s direction, and their mark rests upon the kulturkampf which stirs underneath the state of the union.
Real progress must always be backed by sound reasoning and marked by tangible results; it is, otherwise, mere theory. A nation is benefited greatly by having a single language to facilitate trade, community, law, and governance, and the same is true of a collective culture. An alternative model would need to provide at least a tangible equal benefit to be a realistic alternative. It is not nearly enough to be modern only for the sake of modernity.
There is a danger in that in the eager scramble for a “progressive” future, the lessons of what made America great are forgotten and discarded as old-fashioned and therefore valueless.
The result, as depicted in the Coke super-bowl ad, is no longer one nation that the world looked upon in awe for example. It is a nation that is the sum of its parts, but no greater.