“One For All, And All For One,” the famous motto of the Musketeers, in Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers. Dumas, son of a French nobleman and an African slave, was a prolific and still popular French writer in the mid 1800s, having penned Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo among many others. I wanted to use the Latin, “Unus Pro Omnibus, Omnes Pro Uno” for this important phrase in the episode title because to most people the concept is as dead as the language. And I wanted to make at least some use of my mandatory two years of Latin in my first two years of high school. And yes, a public school–back when.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ. -Galatians 3:28
Dumas meets the Apostle Paul, with a vital lesson for all of us today. That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Today’s Key Point: We have dramatically more in common than whatever it is that we use as wedge issues to divide us. It is much easier to complain, accuse and attack than it is to make helpful contributions. And not only easier, our society rewards complainers and accusers far more than it rewards the grateful and the contributors. When are we going to grow up and agree with Dumas and Paul that the only way to live is, “One for all, and all for one?” This way, the right way, is harder, and in today’s society will earn little praise, and much scorn. But how many times in life is the right way the easy way?
If Dumas, a Frenchman, the son of an African slave mother, born at a time when slavery was legal in France, can see that we are all in this together, and that we need each other, and that the others need us, what is our problem?
If Paul, a Jewish Roman citizen, could passionately call for both Jews and Gentiles, avowed antagonists at the time, to come together, what are we missing? Paul, his Jewish name was Saul, called for us to come together in Christ. If we do not share that faith, we must recognize what we do share as reasons to come together. The earth, our humanity, citizenship, or at least residence, in America, the most free and wealthiest nation in the history of history.
What moral compass, what North Star, what ideology, political or religious, teaches us to tear each other down, and to tear ourselves apart? A. The ideology of “I’m right, you’re wrong, therefore anything goes.” I indulged myself by commenting in a recent Facebook thread about private businesses requiring a vaccination for either employment or to be an in-person customer or client. This was prompted by Governor DeSantis’ move to make that requirement illegal for businesses in Florida. In a thread that was 99% against allowing business to require proof of vaccination, I jumped in saying that whether or not you agree with their stance, businesses have that right. An extension of, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” This group of commenters, no doubt seeing themselves on the right politically, thought that it was about time that businesses be restricted in this way. Some BLM advocates and others, who clearly see themselves on the left politically, want to limit business freedoms in another way. They want to make certain things mandatory for private businesses, including professing and showing support for the BLM movement and its goals. They see this as it’s about time for businesses to act in a way as to be judged sufficiently anti-racist. Both see themselves as right, and the opposition as wrong. Both want to make their views mandatory. Why? Well, because they are in the right, and anything goes. And both are contributing to pulling us apart. Wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on the wall when these two groups realize how similar they really are?
Many individuals and groups are delighting in turning America into the world’s largest taffy pull, with the intention of pulling our nation apart for their benefit. One of the most prevalent types of parties decades ago was called the candy pull or taffy pull, which involved buttering one’s hands and pulling the molasses candy repeatedly. More recently, machines are used to perform that task, often in the front window of the business to attract customers. And you can buy much smaller machines for home use today. The irony is that taffy pulls are designed to mix the ingredients in the candy; those intent on pulling us apart are dedicated to achieving the opposite effect–for their benefit.
Let’s use another sweet to make a related point. Neapolitan ice cream is made in layers of different colored flavors, typically including chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. The colors and flavors are distinct, each one adding to the overall enjoyment. It is impossible to enjoy the entire cone, cup or sandwich without experiencing all three colors and flavors. Each flavor is distinct and enjoyable for what it is. Sometimes you get two or three flavors at the same time. In the end, the colors and flavors are entirely indistinguishable.
Individuals and groups are wonderfully and usefully different. Are we going to honor those differences to make everything dramatically better, or are we going to weaponize those differences for personal and political advantage?
And who is the “All” in, “All for one, and one for all”? Is it you and one or two others? Your extended family? Those with whom you agree? All Americans? All humanity? What is your answer?
We will close with a familiar quote from Ben Franklin, Founder, inventor, the first Postmaster General, the diplomat who persuaded the French to join the rebels against England–and so much more. “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” Franklin’s implied threat was being hung by the neck until dead by the British as punishment for treason. With our self-inflicted division, the threat is that we will all figuratively hang ourselves. A lingering financial, political and moral death.
Did today’s episode stir up any new thoughts for you? If so, what might you be doing differently?
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.