Happy Independence Day 2021!

July 4, 2021

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I’ve been thinking about the July 4th Independence Day holiday for weeks before today.  We are not quite back to normal after COVID but getting there.  I am also glad we are almost six months removed from the painful events of January 6.  Hopefully, time and true patriotism will heal this wound.

It is worth remembering that it was no small feat for our Founding Fathers, a group of individuals with many different viewpoints to agree to, sign and submit the Declaration of Independence. Most of the people in the room at that time had benefited greatly from the current system. In fact, many ended up losing significant wealth and/or in some cases, their lives because of signing that document. It was one of those rare moments in history where a group of individuals came together and put the common greater good above their own self-interest. Of course, there were politics involved. There always is. Somehow, they overcame it.

It feels like our country goes through different periods where we feel unified, or it feels like we are breaking apart.  We literally almost broke apart 160 years ago. Anyone who has traveled this country knows how diverse and varied our topography, climate and political viewpoints can be.  Quite frankly, it’s understandable that people who grew up and live in different environments could feel, think, and act differently. I’m sure if you come from a more rural background, you might view things differently than someone who spent their whole life inhabiting an urban landscape. If you grew up in a wealthy suburb, you might see the world differently that somebody who grew up in a more challenging socio-economic situation.  If you’re an immigrant who is new to English speaking culture, you might think differently than someone whose family’s been here for generations.  If you are a person of faith, you might feel definitely about things than  someone who is an atheist or agnostic. If you come from a big family, you might even think differently than someone who is an only child. Our differences are many, real and to be expected. When properly managed they become our strengths and broaden our perspectives. When improperly navigated, they appeal to our darker natures and can become our curse.

I sometimes wish we had another holiday called Interdependence Day. While we did, as an emerging nation, decide to separate from Great Britain. We also decided at the time to work together as 13 disparate colonies.  We put a multitude of regional and philosophical differences aside to achieve a common objective.  Nothing great in this country has ever happened because of the work of one homogeneous group of like-minded people.  Usually, they only end up creating problems for everyone else.  It is our heterogeneity which is our strength.  We must never forget that.

We’ve survived our own Civil War.  We’ve been able to build the strongest economy the world has ever seen. We’ve won two world wars and the Cold War.  We’ve overcome multiple recessions and even a Great Depression.  We’ve saved the world from pandemics and kept the post WWII world relatively safe and stable (given historical comparisons).  Our scientific and medical breakthroughs in the last 25 years alone have been astonishing.  None of this was accomplished by one group of people.  It involved people of all skin colors, faiths, sexes, and large number of immigrants rallying behind a common need.  When necessary, we’ve come together as one nation to do what’s required for the greater good.  Let’s make it necessary again without waiting for a crisis to make it happen.  If anything, COVID should have been a wake-up call.

Happy Independence (and Interdependence) Day!  Look around you.  You are surrounded by hard working good people who all love this country as much as you do.  They just may look different and think differently about certain things than you, which should be okay in a free country.  You might even learn something from them. To steal a thought from Abraham Lincoln.  “A house divided against itself cannot stand” but a house with a strong foundation and structure can survive just about anything!

 

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