America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. – Ralph Ellison
What does that mean?
This is another of a series of Twitter-shortened quotes. The full text is:
“America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain. It’s ‘winner take nothing’ that is the great truth of our country or of any country. Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat. Our fate is to become one, and yet many — This in not prophecy, but description.” – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, Epilogue
To me, this is a quote about the spirit of all human kind. As individuals, we are all a little different, yet as a group, we are still partly the same. America’s motto was (until Congress changed it in 1956) “e pluribus unum,” a Latin phrase meaning “Out of many, one,” which is the core of the first portion of the quote.
The quote continues by reminding us that life is not a zero-sum game, but a rich and vibrant setting. Here, everyone can play for as much as they wish to, and that in doing so, no one need be deprived for another to prosper. We wish to live our lives freely, and not have them controlled by others.
The quote finishes describing the game of life as rigged, as no one ever gets out alive. But it also states (rightly so, in my mind) that it is the playing, the effort, and the skill, that makes one a winner in that game. The quote wraps up back where it started, stating we are both one and many at the same time, and that it isn’t a prediction, but concrete fact.
Why is our uniqueness important?
Who else could be you? For all our flaws, we each have something unique to bring to the world. Everyone is good for something, even if the only thing you can think of is they are good as an example of what not to do, not to be or not to think.
Think of how boring everything would be if we were all the same, all did the same things, and thought the same way. That’s a tragic dystopia, at least in my mind.
- What if everyone liked the exact same kind of music? – No one would ever be able to break into the music scene, and it would get boring really quick.
- What if everyone thought the exact same way? – It would be like a world wide cult or global brain-washing, with no original thinking, how bland.
- What if everyone acted the exact same way? – I keep getting seeing in my mind’s eye an army of ants wearing Devo’s ‘energy domes’ or Star Wars clone troopers.
Where can I apply this in my life?
What makes you unique? If you have 6 fingers on your right hand, you might want to be on the lookout for Inigo Montoya, who would like to have a word with you. But more seriously, each of us is unique at least in our DNA, and in many other ways as well. Even identical twins are a little different.
What makes you different? Where are your strengths? What do you have to contribute to the whole of humanity? Those are pretty big questions. Even something as simple as a sunny disposition or a cheery smile can be a welcome addition to your little corner of humanity.
Perhaps it might be more useful to consider what others would say were your best traits or strongest skills. So, what would people say about you? Do you best serve as a bad example, or do you have some socially redeeming qualities? Perhaps a skill or a useful bit of knowledge? Me, I’m always a good person to have around when something needs to be grabbed from the top shelf.
Now that you have a few ideas, I would ask you to consider what you do with these abilities, talents or qualities. How often do you use them? When or where do you use them? Now here’s the big question: How could you make better use of this gift (or these gifts) of yours?
Could you do it more often? Could you teach it to someone else? Could you use it better (duration, depth, intensity, or power)? How can you make a larger contribution to the human race? Had you ever thought of your talents in this manner before? I know I haven’t. In this post I focus on America, as that is the basis of the quote. However, I feel the topic applies to every member of the human race, so please don’t feel left out.
For me, this blog is part of my contribution. I’ve gotten pretty good at learning from my mistakes, so I have a lot of potentially useful information to share. The fact that this blog has been found by search engines from six of the seven continents gives me hope that others find this blog useful, and in this way, I hope to help others as an individual. In turn, I hope the others will help humanity become a little better every day.
From many, one. That is what humanity is. It is both an enormous number of individuals, and at the same time it is one, whole, entity. Please don’t lose sight of either of these things. You are both alone and together, and you need both parts to be whole, and humanity needs you for it to be whole as well.
From: Twitter, @TSQUAD_TEES
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ralph_ellison.html
Photo by bru76