In the tiny Kansas town of Lebanon, population 252, sits a small church that is said to be the geographic center -- the middle -- of the continental United States.
Music icon Bruce Springsteen might have been sitting in Nebraska as he filmed a Jeep commercial that aired during Sunday's Super Bowl, but his focus was on that church -- and more importantly -- the middle.
It's time for a deeply divided America to find the middle again, he said.
"The very soil we stand on is common ground," Springsteen said in a poignant message, which aired in the fourth quarter.
We couldn't agree more with the sentiment.
Red or blue. Black or white. Rich or poor. We're all Americans, and it's time to stop viewing each other through political goggles and close the gaps that separate us.
We're saddened that the message came not from our elected leaders or time-honored institutions but instead was funded by corporate America.
No fewer than six commercials during the Super Bowl, including Springsteen's message on behalf of Jeep -- each airing at a cost of $5.6 million for 30 seconds -- carried a call for unification.
We can't disagree with the message or the financial commitment corporate America made to disseminating it, but this message should have hit home and been espoused and received by the masses long ago.
Corporate America's push for unification, shouldn't surprise anyone -- Michael Jordan, once asked why he didn't take a side in the political battles of the 1980s, was smart enough to understand that "Republicans buy sneakers, too." -- but it deserves some credit for arriving there on its own.
Still, when the voice of reason in this need for unification is coming from a profit-driven entity that adheres to its spreadsheets and the bottom line, you realize just how far we've slipped as a nation.
We need to again be able to lean on our trusted institutions, the underlying forces in our lives: our churches, schools and government itself.
Our churches and schools used to be unifying forces in our lives. That's no longer the case, thanks to a global pandemic that for the better part of the last year has slammed the door on organized gatherings and the fellowship that comes from social interaction.
It's time for our elected officials to put their entire focus into making sure all Americans wanting to be vaccinated from COVID-19 are given the opportunity to get their shots.
It's time to help get Americans get back to work, to assist small businesses in regaining their foothold and for children everywhere to get back into their classrooms.