Cartier: It’s time to focus on what unites us, not what divides us (column) | VailDaily.com

Cartier: It’s time to focus on what unites us, not what divides us (column)

Jacqueline Cartier
My View

The sports players' partial kneel is considered by many to be disrespectful, yet the very act of kneeling is a greater symbol of reverence, as many churchgoers will attest … of course, that is not the intent. While the players' objective may be moral, their actions appear misguided.

Home to nearly every race, religion and nationality, America is a spectrum of diversity, thriving in the chaos of differences. This disparity is exemplified by individuals and our culturally unique states, all unified under the common values of our Constitution. What sets us apart from other countries is the acceptance of our differences as strengths, not weaknesses.

The current debate is driven by passion. … We are not a passive group. Our ancestors instilled in us a vision to reach for the stars; nothing was impossible, and they created the American dream — the idea that we can accomplish anything.

Whether, settlers, natives, indentured servants or slaves, the common link was envisioning a better life for future generations. They understood that America was not perfect; as anything newly built, it was a work in progress, and it would take time to realize this incredible experiment in governance.

“If we ignore history, revise and erase events, take incidents out of context, then we eliminate lessons learned and sacrifices made. Mistakes occurred because our founders were not godly idols, but people just like us. We must continue to strive toward our nation’s ideals.”

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Many pro athletes have realized their ancestors' aspirations; some having survived incredible conditions to become the best at what they do. It is honorable that they would want an equally great future for others they consider disadvantaged. Yet, others suffer severe hardships, as well; no one is exempt from adversity. For some it is race, for others it is gender, physical disabilities, economic status, family circumstance and many other challenges.

While our forefathers created an incredible landscape for success, we all don't begin at the same place, and some suffer more than others, but where we end up is largely influenced by our beliefs and determination to achieve. Some use these difficulties as an excuse for failure, while others use them as motivation for success.

It is not about where we are, but how far we've come, and where we are going. Discrimination is an ugly reality that has always existed and will continue because humans view the world through the lens of their own experiences, and some of those reinforce negative perceptions. That should not deter us from unifying as Americans and continuing our progress in achieving the ideal of "all men (gals, too) are created equal."

The national anthem and our flag are not only musical notes and pieces of cloth but symbols of a dedication to increasing the equality of opportunity, in honor of those who came before us and as a commitment to the work ahead.

Recent blowback on Civil War monuments highlights that we may never fully comprehend the customs and pressures of earlier times, as their challenges for survival were different; so, placing current expectations on historical events gives an inaccurate picture, as they did not have our benefit of hindsight.

As a country, we are still young and evolving. It takes the perseverance of a diverse nation to keep the dream of our forefathers alive. We are a country built on change, with a respect for those who paid the ultimate price. We must not diminish their sacrifice, while still acknowledging we have a ways to go.

If we ignore history, revise and erase events, take incidents out of context, then we eliminate lessons learned and sacrifices made. Mistakes occurred because our founders were not godly idols, but people just like us. We must continue to strive toward our nation's ideals.

If we focus on what divides us, we will never truly appreciate all that unites us. During the anthem, you're not standing for the things you hate; you're standing for those you love. As you honor this historic hymn, know that your ancestors would beam with pride at all that has been accomplished, and all that is yet to be, in "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Jacqueline Cartier, of Avon, is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit http://www.cartierwinningimages.com. She may be contacted at winningimages.cartier@gmail.com.