The first verse of “America The Beautiful” is the one most likely to become an earworm. The lines that are looping in my head this morning are, “And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!”
The back story of the poem and later the song says that its author, Katherine Lee Bates, was inspired by her journey to the top of Pikes Peak, Colorado. Her imagination was carried away by the spectacular mountainous scenery. She composed the poem in 1893 and organist Samuel Ward composed the melody in 1910.
Brotherhood is strained to the breaking point these days in America. The unity of cooperation and looking out for each other that is exemplified in the concept of brotherhood has been discarded by people and groups with questionable agendas. If the unity of brotherhood within a nation is an admirable trait, why would someone try to subvert it? Could our old international adversaries overseas be covertly involved? Are there homegrown groups who, for whatever reasons, wish to sow divisiveness in order to promote their narrow visions of what they believe the nation should conform to?
We have enough problems on our plate without having to deal with oppression of minorities or the promotion of authoritarianism. In my opinion, we need more brotherhood, not less of it. The spirit of cooperation is desperately needed so we can forge ahead to alleviate the serious problems the nation and the world are currently facing. Call me old fashioned, but I’m all in favor of the United States, not the Divided States.
The earworm continues to loop in my mind. Does it require an outside force to “crown” us with brotherhood? It seems more likely that brotherhood is something that is purposely and mindfully fostered within a society. Brotherhood comes about through understanding, compassion, and love for one another.
Doesn’t brotherhood involve putting our differences aside? Doesn’t brotherhood involve working together in order to accomplish common goals that benefit all of humanity? Doesn’t brotherhood include the important ingredient–selflessness? Brotherhood is not tribalism nor nationalism; it’s open to any person, anywhere.
“We live in a world that has narrowed into a neighborhood before it has broadened into a brotherhood.”–Lyndon B. Johnson
A lot of us have been contemplating the notion of brotherhood more deeply especially during the past few years. It’s good to remember that all humans, together, constitute brotherhood. All of us will encounter sorrows and suffering as well as happy times to celebrate. Brotherhood means we can sympathize with one another and we can joyfully celebrate our shared humanity together.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century judge and judicial philosopher, Learned Hand. “Right knows no boundaries, and justice no frontiers; the brotherhood of man is not a domestic institution.”