Have you ever noticed that America unites in our darkest times?
Our country was formed in dark times. When tyranny was rampant across the 13 colonies, a group of patriots had enough of it and decided to take a stand for freedom.
When America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, even Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto wrote that he feared waking the “sleeping giant” because he knew a unified America was unstoppable.
After the 9/11 attacks, our tragedy-stricken country united like never before. The American flag was sold out for months. There was not a single dry eye when the national anthem played at sporting events. People took pride in our country, regardless of their varying beliefs.
We didn’t care about anyone’s differences in religion, we didn’t care about differences in race, we didn’t care about differences in gender.
Americans cared about one thing: America.
Today, the state of our nation is in shambles. Polarization and division is so rampant, many have lost sight of what it means to be a UNITED States.
We have forgotten that differences and division are two totally separate things.
Rather than rallying behind our favorite sports teams as an escape from politics, we’ve become mired in ugly debates about keeping politics out of sports and what it means to represent America as an athlete.
Being forced to be physically divided throughout the pandemic has made it much easier to tweet, comment and post about our beliefs from the couch instead of having in-person discussions that could actually make a difference. Meanwhile, the media monetizes our fear by pumping out stories that feed off our emotions.
Our prevailing cultural attitudes haven’t helped either. These days it is much easier to be a victim than a victor. When our entire culture tells you that you are owed something because of your “differences,” it is easier to take that handout rather than rise above it on your own terms.
But here’s the thing. The only folks who benefit from our polarization are our enemies across the globe. They want Americans to argue and fight on social media because it diminishes the unilateral bond we share. And our weakness gives them strength.
Some of you might say, “We are past the point of no return.”
But, as a US Army veteran, I don’t agree. Between the looming 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the current state of the United States, I felt compelled to write my book, “Dear America: Live Like It’s 9.12” as a message to the nation.
The truth is that unity is more difficult than division. But, here is the good news: America can and will prevail.
Hitler’s regime tried to take control over all of Europe and did that stop us? No. When terrorists attacked our country on 9/11 did that stop us? No.
America has fought tyranny, slavery, genocidal dictators, socialism, racism, communism, terrorism, radical Islam, and we can combat our internal divisions as well.
Like the Japanese admiral said, America is the sleeping giant. But this sleeping giant needs to wake up! During the COVID-19 lockdown, my company Nine Twelve United and 231,043 Americans across the country donated to The Barstool Fund, helping to support 443 small businesses shut down by the pandemic. Moments like these prove we still can unify during times of crisis.
Living like it’s 9/12 means prioritizing people over politics. It means being willing to sacrifice the shelter of our own echo chambers on social media. It means listening and having uncomfortable conversations with others in order to restore the unity that our country needs.
If we remember how we felt after 9/11, we can show the world that America does not divide in our dark times.