Thanks to radio broadcast legend Paul Harvey's down-to-earth sense of America's heartland, Super Bowl viewers experienced an emotionally charged reminder of the values that made America what it is. The Dodge ad that honored the farmer proved to be one of the best commercials of the day. It wasn't just farmers who felt its impact, because as the ad so rightly expressed, its tribute was "to the farmer in all of us."
When you take out the specific reference to farmers in the ad's script, the values remain:
"On the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said I need a caretaker.... I need someone to get up before dawn...work all day...eat supper, go down town, and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. ... I need someone who will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon...and then put in another 72 hours. ... I need someone strong enough...and gentle enough.... It needed to be someone who would plow deep and straight and not cut corners...someone who would bale a family together with the soft, strong bond of sharing...who would laugh and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says he wants to spend his life doing what dad does."
Such words and images bear witness to the rock-solid American values--Hard work, self-reliance, perseverance, resilience, strength of character, and the importance of faith, family and giving back to the community. There were images of African-American and Caucasian farmers. You saw men, women and families giving thanks through both the struggles and the blessings.
The ad was a moving tribute to what radio talk show host, Dennis Prager, calls the American Trinity of values engraved on every coin--"Liberty," "In God We Trust," and "E Pluribus Unum." Farmers, like all hard-working Americans, exhibit the drive, patience, and resilience that liberty demands to make pursuit of any dream a reality. Farmers, like most Americans, give thanks for the providence of God in enriching and blessing this fine country. Farmers, like other values-driven Americans, have more in common with those who share their principles than they do with any given gender, race or nation of origin. America is not and never will be perfect, but American values still work when we live them.
Some progressives scoffed at the ad and suggested that conservatives want to return to a past that is no longer relevant, to a past that wasn't idyllic in the first place. It's true that every improvement is the result of change, but not every change is an improvement. The past shouldn't have an automatic veto, nor should calls for change throw out the treasured values that fueled and guided our two centuries of progress. America's challenge is to honor, reclaim and use those values to invent and guide an even better future.
On Super Bowl Sunday, at New Hope Lutheran Church in Agoura Hills, CA, Rev. Inman Moore talked about his first-hand civil rights journey in Mississippi's turbulent 60's. He reminded listeners that the compelling vision of our founding fathers that "all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness..." has driven Americans to make that dream a reality.
To conservatives, E Pluribus Unum, "out of many one," is more than a slogan. It captures something important about America. America's inspiring vision of equal rights leaves no room for dividing citizens on the basis of gender, race, wealth, profession, or nation of origin.
Don't divide us. Don't make special entitlements or special laws for some Americans. Don't limit any American's ability to take advantage of their own opportunities or reap the rewards of their harvest. Let freedom ring. Give all the liberty to succeed or fail, let neighbor help neighbor in the tough times, and may all applaud successes when well earned.