Recent world events provide a striking lesson in the making and unmaking of nations. We in the United States ignore this lesson at our peril.
From the wreckage of the Soviet empire a score of free states are emerging. The most successful will be those whose citizens feel bound to each other by a common national spirit. History shows that a sense of shared values and culture is vital for the internal stability that a country needs to prosper.
Across the border, Canada teeters on the brink of disintegration due to a shattering of this spirit. Quebec may be pacified this time, but Canada will not long remain united. The crisis will resurface precisely because many Canadians fail to embrace a common national spirit strongly enough to overcome their other differences.
In Canada's defense, this was inevitable. The country was founded on the hope that two dissimilar cultures could eventually be reconciled. They cannot.
The situation in the United States is quite the opposite. Our independence was premised on a single national spirit. And Americans have remained united because of our willingness to accept common values and culture despite our other differences.
Yet, against all logic, we risk committing national suicide by forgetting this tradition and artificially creating for ourselves the same problems that are tearing Canada apart.
Unity is undermined by encouraging multiculturalism and diminishing the importance of a common language. Children leave our schools without learning about their country or the values of citizenship. History is rewritten to appease special interests. National symbols and heritage are shamefully abused.
To see the effects these will eventually have we don't need the ability to look ahead 20 or 50 years. We need only look north.
RALPH M. VISANO