An Ode to America
An Editorial Published in a
Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if
you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an
astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct,
others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious
beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.
Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into
a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the
army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody
rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby
to gape about.
The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking
ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national
flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and
on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion
they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!".
Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday
once, twice, three times, on different TV channels. There were Clint
Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay,
Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Sylvester Stallone, James Wood, and
many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The
American's solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir
is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the
American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin
Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and
sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity
I don't know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America
didn't sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green
with envy because you weren't able to sing for your country without
running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected
of who-knows-what mean interests.
I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening
to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman
in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey
player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from
hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds or thousands
of people. How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human?
Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some
turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call,
millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding
not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their
galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to
find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding
like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.
Only freedom can work such miracles!