Happy Independence Day!
This fourth of July holiday seems a perfect time for Americans to reflect on the state of our country. Now 237 years old, our republic has weathered countless storms. It has survived attack from within and without. It has grown from a small upstart group of British colonies to the strongest nation on Earth. 316 million people call themselves Americans today.
This experiment in democracy continues to be a shining beacon for those around the world burdened with oppressive governments. Those who think that OUR government is oppressive need to spend time in China or Afghanistan or Sudan. Americans have the luxury of complaining about our government, usually with full bellies and roof over their head and without the need to defend their home and family on a daily basis.
Our nation is not yet perfect, and it will likely never be. It wasn’t perfect back in the good old days of the 1780’s or 1890’s or 1950’s though you’d think it was from the claims of some today.
It’s a natural tendency to idealize a former period of time, but a trap that wise citizens should avoid. Any casual look at the history of civil rights in our country alone will uncover that your "good old days” were someone else’s trial.
Today will be someone’s "good old days” 30-40 years from now. They’ll look back fondly and reminisce. Meanwhile we are consumed with how awful life is now. It’s all about perspective.
Yes, we have troubles. And we’ll continue to have troubles. Our country is not immune to the laws of nature-human and otherwise.
Rather than dwell on what’s wrong, let’s look at what’s good about where we are right now…
Every child in America has the right to a free education. Taxpayers elect members of a school board that controls their local schools. Imagine you have a 10-year-old daughter in Afghanistan.
Public Safety agencies serve both large and small communities and rural areas of our country. Some countries have no one to represent the law in their community and life is chaotic and dangerous.
Citizens can travel from one end of our country to the other freely. Our state borders are open. Not so in other places around the globe.
Jobs, while not plentiful, are available. There are opportunities to work hard and achieve your dreams. They might not be right down the street, but they are out there and available for those who want to work. Talk to a member of the greatest generation who went into WW II with nothing but the shirt on their back and now have a good life. The world has changed since then, but opportunities are still there.
American citizens have the right to criticize their government. We can say pretty much anything we want, even if it’s not true, inflammatory and downright hateful, if our inbox is any measure. Doesn’t mean we’ll print it here, but the government can’t stop you from saying it.
We have the right to vote. White, Black, Hispanic, women, men, old or young – each time you go into a voting booth, you are exercising that most precious right of Americans. There are many countries where you put your life at risk by voting.
Our communities are filled with good people. Look around. You’ll find neighbors helping neighbors; a bag of food left on a doorstep; a ride to the clinic offered. We all tend to think it’s just our neighborhood, or our town, but it’s the whole country. Every community has good people helping others.
Americans enjoy religious freedom. They may worship any God they choose or no god at all. America has the broadest, richest variety of spirituality on the planet. And we’re free to subscribe to any or none. The extent that religious freedom impacts another’s rights is a point under debate in America, but no one will stop you from walking into a church of your choice.
These are but a few of the many things that are good about America in 2013. Our national conversation is consumed with what’s wrong about America. America has always faced challenges and it will continue to do so. We are not on the brink of anarchy no matter what some might say.
But let’s leave the nasty stuff to the politicians…how about the rest of us focus on what’s right and good about America during this Independence Day weekend.
Let’s take this holiday to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t and the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans!
Happy Independence Day!
"Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the
natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred
heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let
selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its
riches or its romance.”
― Theodore Roosevelt