by Christopher Ryan
U2’s Bono spoke at the 23rd annual New Yorker Festival last night. Well, first he riled up the crowd, and sang, and recited new poetry, and sang some more.
And then he ignited my soul.
During his performance he noted that in this country, we can take a DNA test and discover we are 40% Polish, 12% Korean, 23% Argentine, “but it will never describe you as American.” That, he suggested, is something we become ourselves.
The legendary Irish rock band’s front man and global activist then put forth the notion that “America is a song that is still writing itself.” He is correct. And the latest verses have grown dark, more yelling at each other than creating harmony utilizing our different voices.
Bono then discussed this country being built on “The Idea of America” murmuring, “Lucky you. Lucky us. Lucky me,” before kneeling to the audience and, I thought, that very precious concept.
The Idea of America is the belief that anyone, from any country, any religion, any political leaning, any race, any gender identity, any sexual orientation, with any dream, can come here and they’ll get the chance to work hard to create the life they envision.
This promise is central to my love for this country. It is what sustains my faith in the possibilities and potential of this nation even amid all the divisiveness tearing at our collective soul these days.
It is so important to me that I wrote an entire novel in defense of both The Idea of America and reigniting the potential of this country. And then Jan. 6th happened, compelling me to rewrite it, expanding, editing, and improving it into the best it can possibly be. The Idea of America is at work on every page of what one reader described as “a love letter to America.”
A Simple Rebellion is the story of a widowed, depressed former comedy icon tricked into appearing remotely on a late night talk show. His response to the host is misunderstood, and triggers a shocking and increasing g number of Americans to passive protest, with explosive results. And somewhere in that tumult, the American Spirit is rekindled.
I love and believe in America, scars and all. To hear Bono’s belief in this nation of infinite potential energized me to share what I am doing to try to help this great experiment continue, to do what I can to protect The Idea of America and nurture the American Spirit. And, yes, I secretly dream that it might ignite a few souls like Bono ignited mine, again.
Thanks, Bono. I needed that.