Today is July 4th. Independence Day for the United States of America.
For most of us, that means hot dogs and fireworks. Maybe a family trip to the lake, or a nearby park. Plus plenty of red, white and blue bunting, balloons, and other decorative paraphernalia, in various places. All this meant to celebrate the birthday of one of the most powerful, and in my view, best countries in the world.
Not everyone would agree with that last bit. Some say we’ve lost our footing, our moral imperative. Some would say we never had one in the first place, and there may be some truth to that. Lately, I’ve seen our government do some things that made me cringe. Things I never would have envisioned happening in America. And it made me want to rage, and wail, and weep.
But I still love my country.
I love that we are supposed to be a nation of equals. I know the ideal isn’t always – or even usually – realized. But it is there, and if we hold it up long enough, support it vigorously enough, maybe we can make it the norm instead of the exception.
I love that America takes a hodge-podge of cultures, ethnicities, customs and viewpoints, and not only allows them all, but gives them a place in the greater social experiment. Whether we recognize it or not, our American culture exists, a tapestry woven together with threads of every imaginable shade and texture. Traditions and faiths from all over the Earth have a home and make a contribution here. And that is beautiful.
I love that the majority of our people tend toward generosity more than toward stinginess. Check out any crowdfunding page created by those in genuine need, and time after time, you’ll see that need filled, and more than filled. Often by those who are struggling themselves.
All these things have flip sides. There are those who routinely work the system to get over on those they consider “less” than themselves. Some of our people have an unhealthy addiction to racism, sexism, faith-ism and a host of other ugly isms that tear down and destroy rather than lifting us up. Far too often, the greedy and ruthless among us succeed financially while the kinder and more compassionate bear the burden of assisting those in need. And the blame-game is far too popular here.
There is the challenge. Love your country without allowing yourself to be blind to her faults. And then work to repair those faults as much and as well as you can. It isn’t easy.
But that is the work of a true patriot.