Tomorrow Americans celebrate the birth of independence, the birth of country, the longevity of the United States of America. We’re old, by some reckonings, barely started by others.
We’ve had glory days, amazing stories that fill our history books, our movie scenes, fill our hearts with pride and nostalgia. We rightly remember the heroes, the brave ones, the hardworking backbone of this country.
And we’ve had the other…the moments, many captured to live indefinitely online, that haunt and hurt and damage our national story. We’ve had days of sorrow, internal family feuding and fighting that’s hateful, and embarrassing.
We’re all siblings, of a sort.
Lately, I’ve wondered…are we, the citizens of the United States, really worthy of the freedom we enjoy? Do we deserve the rights and privileges we’re so accustomed to having?
Do we take voting seriously? Do we know about the issues, take time to understand more than the sound bites and talking points that we’re already drawn to, by our pre-determined stances and opinions?
Do we look for candidates who will be leaders, or do we just check boxes when we vaguely recognize a familiar name?
Do we bother to learn about local issues, the unexciting realm of politics that influences school boards and community elections? Do we know what’s happening at the level of governing we can all be a part of? Do we participate in our own back yard?
Do we look for ways to help? Or are we just enjoying the show, enjoying the role of critic without the burden of involvement?
Do we look for the good of the whole? Are we focused on self-interest, or are we interested in our siblings…our national siblings?
Are we nurturing a nation, caring for our collective integrity and honor?
Sometimes it seems like we’re talking all the time, but not really saying anything worthwhile.
Is anyone even listening anymore? Or are we all talking over each other? We can all feel good that we’ve had our say. But did anyone hear anyone else?
I don’t have all the answers, nor does anyone else. Our issues are big, and getting bigger. Our debt is enormous, and our resources are limited.
But our hearts are not limited. Our imagination is not limited. Our capacity for compassion and hard work is unmatched.
Rather than hoping we can reach agreement on all our many areas of conflict, I hope we’ll look for opportunities to make actual contributions to real needs. I don’t have to agree with someone to work beside them for common good. And there so much that we can do if we choose to cooperate, instead of using our energy and time to tear one another apart.
Tomorrow we celebrate the heroes of thought and words who conceived a land built on freedom and liberty. We celebrate the heroes of action who brought the idea to reality. I hope we’ll also be celebrating the heroes of quiet deeds, the people who continue to make the United States great…the people who give, generously; who care, ferociously; who live, courageously; and who love, whole-heartedly.
We are siblings, all of us citizens. We’re national siblings, and we need to remember that. We pay a price to live in this land. Freedom isn’t free, even for civilians. There is a cost to everything, for everyone. And I’m not talking about taxes.
I’m talking about the price we owe from the heart.
Are you paying your share?
Happy 4th of July, Americans! Happy 4th, my siblings!