Happy Fourth of July!
Finding common ground on our nation's birthday
This time every year, we start planning how we’ll celebrate the independence of our country. And there’s always so much to choose from! Parades, patriotic ceremonies, picnics and beach bonfires, family cookouts and fireworks. It’s a great day, commemorating a great moment in history.
This year, however, it might feel a little strained. As much as we all love this country, we find ourselves on opposite sides of some very important issues and our political leaders - current, former and future - don’t appear to be doing much to resolve it.
We all have a point of view and most of those positions are valid.
Here’s a thought: As Americans, maybe we’re a little bit like children who are just about grown up enough to see their parents’ flaws. For instance, when we’re little children, we worship our parents: Mommy is the prettiest lady in the world and daddy is the strongest man. As we grow up, our opinions evolve and shift through harsh words, misunderstandings and maybe even silence.
Finally, if we’re lucky, we all get to be adults together and we can look at them more gently. They’re not perfect, they never were, and we can see all the characteristics that made them who they are.
Right now, we’re hearing about battles over whether to teach kids more factual versions of history, particularly of slavery, the treatment of Black Americans over the centuries and similar difficult topics.
We’re watching people fight about whether our Constitution - our most cherished document and the foundation of our democracy - is worth preserving.
It’s harsh, we don’t understand each other very well and in many cases people on either side of those issues have stopped communicating entirely.
If we’re lucky, we’ll continue to grow up as a nation enough to be able to look at our shared history more gently. Our Revolutionary heroes weren’t perfect; our leaders through the generations did both great and terrible things, and all of that together is what makes us Americans.
There’s no point in arguing that the things that happened didn’t happen, or that just because we aren’t personally affected by historical wrongs they’re irrelevant now. No one is all good or all bad, including our Founding Fathers, our political heroes and even the people we consider enemies.
If we’re very lucky, we’ll get to the point where we can agree that disagreement is healthy, all people are equal and the privileges of being American belong to all of us.
Very happy Fourth of July, friends. Celebrate safely.