Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 15, 2001 / 25 Sivan, 5761

Ben Stein

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Happy country vs. sour politics -- I WAS recently in Miami Beach for a memorial service for a very dear friend. The man who drove me in from the airport to my hotel was Haitian, perfectly pleasant and did a fine job. The desk clerk at my hotel was from Atlanta, and his assistant was from Florida. They also were capable and friendly. The cab driver who took me to the boat from where we scattered the ashes was from Ecuador. He did a fine job and was sympathetic. The boat captain was from Portsmouth, England, and likewise did a great day's work with extreme empathy.

The woman who boarded us at the Miami Airport on my return was from Panama. The seatmate I had on the long flight to Los Angeles was from Zimbabwe. She could not have been more delightful.

After my flight, I got a Fed-Ex delivery from a driver who was from Canada. (Yes, I asked, as I do to all the people I meet.) Then I went for an exam at a nearby lab. The medical technician was from the Philippines. The radiologist who read the screen was the most endearing doctor I have ever met. She was from Poland, a Jewish woman, most of whose father's family had been wiped out in Hitler's genocide. I am telling you, she was a goddess of intelligence and empathy. The man who parked my car was from Mexico and promised to watch my dog carefully for me. When I went home, my maid was hard at work. She is from El Salvador, and I would trust her with my life. I walked to a nearby spot to get a cheeseburger with my assistant stage manager. He is from Israel and asked me to speak at his wedding. The guy who made my sandwich was from Korea and the man who brought me a root beer was from Lebanon. They all smiled, did their jobs perfectly and laughed as they worked.

I marveled at how many people from how many different places I interacted with in just a few days, and how kind, considerate and helpful they all were.

Suddenly, a thought hit me: America works amazingly well. We take in all of these people from wildly diverse cultures, put them to work in our free, cheerful air, and they make the machine of America hum. In fact, they make America sing of tolerance, accommodation, efficiency and respect.

In other parts of the world, people from different nationalities and tribes kill each other. Here, they smile and make cheeseburgers for each other and do diagnostic work at labs to save one another. This country is a smoothly running machine, oiled with generosity of spirit, freedom, material abundance and a culture that says that making a living is more important than holding grudges. I travel this country like a madman, speaking, visiting family, doing TV. I see almost no anger and very little friction, but a lot of smiles.

The only place I consistently see anger is in Washington and on the TV talk shows, where there seems to be a vested interest in endless cat-and-dog fighting.

Outside the Beltway, people are too busy to fight, having too much fun to hate and making a nation that is the envy of the world for its riches and for its goodness of soul. This nation works awfully well.

Maybe the people in D.C. could learn something from the rest of us. If the folks on Capitol Hill could work together as well as the people at Johnny Rockets hamburger stand or the X-ray lab or American Airlines, it would not matter if one man in the Senate were a Republican or a Democrat or an independent. The senators would just do their jobs to get the job done, not to make enemies.

I wish Ted Kennedy and Trent Lott could see just how well the America outside the Capitol power circuit works and with how little enmity. It might inspire them. It sure has moved me to be grateful, once more, to be in a place where getting along, instead of getting even, is a way of life.

JWR contributor Ben Stein is a writer, actor and host of Comedy Central's Turn Ben Stein On and Win Ben Stein's Money. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Ben Stein