America The Beautiful… And Diverse
Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 was my day. I was finally getting to see my Seattle Seahawks football team play in the Super Bowl. While I was confident that they would win, I never suspected the rout that took place against the top seeded team from the opposing conference. While I saw the Seahawks win, I would much rather have experienced a closer game. But there is currently something leaving even a more bitter taste in my mouth right now.
The other highlight of Super Bowl Sundays is the onslaught of “all or nothing” commercials who are rumored to have paid up to $4 million dollars for just a 30 second spot during the big game. One such commercial has set off a huge controversy which really shows just how far we still have to go as far as recognizing our country as one of the greatest in how we treat people and their various cultures.
Years ago, Coca Cola used the song “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” in their commercials, to demonstrated the world and all of its citizens having the ability to get along with everyone. Okay, it was really to show that everyone all over the world liked Coca Cola. In the modern version, Coca Cola used the song “America The Beautiful”, again with a warm fuzzy message, but subliminally, everyone still loves Coke. But the wrench in the works is that Coca Cola dared to have the song sung in various languages.
I am going to be sarcastic here (I feel I actually need to offer that disclaimer)…
Imagine the horror that television viewers witnessed that singers of the song, “America The Beautiful” would dare sing the song in languages other than English. SACRILEGE!!!
I am now turning off the sarcasm. First off, the United States does not have an official language, many countries do. Our country does not. Second off, the song was not our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, and again, while many may express principle, if someone wanted to sing our National Anthem in their native tongue, there is nothing to be done about it.
So what is the issue at this controversy? Are people now pissed off because we have gone beyond having to press #1 for English and #2 for Espanol? Has the frustration grown beyond having to craft a sign printed in several languages? In school long ago, I had the opportunity to study both Spanish and Italian languages. I do not think that I had any plan to use either of them, but I took those courses anyway. No harm had come to me as a result, and to be honest, I have never had a use for them. Occasionally I may understand bits and pieces of a conversation, but no harm has ever come to me. Perhaps if I travel to Spain, Mexico, or Italy, those languages may be of use to me.
But as the parent of two beautiful little girls, who coincidently happen to be adopted from China, I plan of having them learn their native language fluently. In the process, I will probably pick up some of the language. Guess what, they are both American citizens. They are learning the English language as their primary language, but they will learn Chinese, and any other language they so choose. The bottom line is, America is beautiful. And the fact that so many cultures recognize that, and sing a song about America, in their native tongue is not offensive at all, as a select group has expressed their bigoted outrage.
No flags were burned. No embassies were bombed. We still have not solved how to prevent school shootings. Poverty is still a major concern in our country. But it is deemed important to direct attention to a song, not a National Anthem, just a song, that was sung in a different language than what we had always heard it sung. What is embarrassing and outraging, is the narrow-mindedness that a Bangladeshi cannot sing “America The Beautiful”, nor can a Mexican, a Japanese, Chinese, Irish, Italian. There are bigger problems in the world and our country than “Oh hermoso para los cielos espaciosos,Para las ondas ambarinas del grano,Para majestuosas montañas de color púrpuraPor encima de la llanura de fruto!América!”
And yes, I do happen to speak 99% English and only a few words of Spanish, Italian, and Chinese. I applaud Coca Cola for recognizing what a great and diverse country the United States of America really is.