The events of the past few weeks are a touching reminder that we are all traveling through history together, and the paths we take can make a difference not just in our own lives, but in those of others.
Prince William and Princess Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, wrapped up their trip to Southern California. Americans warmly greeted the attractive, gracious, caring couple at every stop as they participated in a polo match, hobnobbed with celebrities, encouraged children at an arts school in a notorious skid row area, and attended a job fair for military veterans. The British royals deliberately met an array of Americans and promoted service.
At the same time, Europeans wrapped up an eight-day celebration of American President Ronald Reagan for his role in ending communism and reunifying Europe. They raised statues of him, named streets after him, and held a formal dinner for dignitaries in London’s stunning Guildhall. Krakow held a thanksgiving mass in which Cardinal Dziwisz echoed a common theme: “President Reagan…took great pains to bring about the demise of that which he so aptly named ‘the evil empire.’ This empire of evil denied many people and nations their freedom. It did so by way of a pernicious ideology…the result of this experiment was the death and sufferings of millions.” Dziwisz and others across Europe recalled Reagan’s style of peaceful liberation. They said that by making America strong, economically and militarily, by being serious and focused, and by speaking plain and true, he both inspired the victims of communism and weakened their oppressors. He did it by instilling confidence in America, and developing a close personal relationship with the head of the evil empire. He did it without firing a single shot. These European leaders never want their people to forget the service he and his fellow Americans performed for them.
A week later, America’s New York Times and Britain’s The Guardian, worked together to strategically expose the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire. At about the same time Manchester United, the world’s most popular soccer team, played the Sounders FC in Seattle. The success of United is another trans-Atlantic collaboration. It is an English team owned by the Glazers, an American family, and managed by England’s Sir Alex Ferguson. Part of its popularity comes from its tradition of playing fair—a characteristic valued by both countries.
Last week, candlelight vigils were held in Europe and America honoring victims of terror attacks in Norway. More than 500 people gathered at the Nordic Heritage Museum in the Seattle area. The crowd was so large that many had to stand outside. Kim Nesselquist, honorary consul for Norway, compared the attack to September 11th in the United States, and noted that the two countries have something else in common…”great resilience and an absolute belief in our democratic values.” Dr. Loren Anderson, president of Pacific Lutheran University, told mourners, “Tonight, we are all Norwegians.”
Every day, we are all citizens not only of our own countries, but of the world.