The America I Know

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I travel. A lot.

I've had the joy and the privilege to visit 47 of our 50 United States in my lifetime. In fact, in just the past three years I've spent nearly half my life on the road.

In these three years, I've spent time in small American towns in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, Alaska, Ohio, Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Mississippi.

I've spent time in mid-sized American cities like Minneapolis, Richmond, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Portland, Columbus, and Memphis.

I've spent time in big American cities like Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Diego, and New York.

I've spent time on the right side of the tracks. I've spent time on the wrong side of the tracks.

I live in Brooklyn.

I've spent hours talking to vastly different people, with vastly different backgrounds, who hold vastly different beliefs, and who lead vastly different lives.

I've shared and prayed with Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, and spiritual folks who chose not to align their beliefs with any specific religion.

I've lived along side white people, black people, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and people living here in America from countries too many to count.

I know and love people who are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

Many of my family members are Republicans. Many of my coworkers are Democrats. My brother is Libertarian. My friends are all of the above.

All this is to say that I have had the joy and the privilege to experience America in a deep, and varied, and personal, and intimate way.

Over the past two weeks I watched and listened to politicians, analysts, correspondents, talking heads, editorialists, admired actors, forgotten celebrities, brave soldiers, patriotic citizens, and people who grieve lost loved ones.

As I watched and listened, I saw painted two startlingly different portraits of America. Frankly, I'm not sure these two pictures could be any more different.

But only one version matches the America I know and love, the America I've been able to experience from sea to sea, from north to south, from small town to big city to cities every size in between.

And if that other America does exist, it sure doesn't exist anywhere I've been.

Benjamin Eppes