Where Are We Heading? What Does July 4th Mean? The Key Questions Call Us Out
What Started This Blog in The First Place?
This little blog came to life in June of 2018. The first post raised the issue of how we could relate to each other going forward as fellow Americans:
Of Tribes, Truth, and Our Country –
This was followed the same week by a sobering reminder of what I saw on the ground in trips to the Middle East – Countries that had lost the ability to talk among themselves, and the risk that America could be on that same destructive path:
So Where to Next, America? –
Observations on July 4 Last Year – Even More True Today
The third post that came back to haunt me was the one for July 4th of last year. We had gone through some very tough years and were, in the midst of 2021, facing still more daunting challenges. The post talked about why it was OK to celebrate AND to mourn.
Mixed Emotions on the 4th of July? That is Very American –
The Two Questions We Will Answer as a Nation – One Way or the Other
I found these three earlier posts calling out to me on this July 4th, louder and more insistently than earlier. Taken in a complete and historically attuned mindset, one can conclude that there is indeed much to celebrate, but much to worry about as well. The two central questions demand our attention:
- How shall we relate to each other as fellow citizens? There seems to be now some irreparable divisions dividing many of us. We have decided that the divisions are permanent and justified. But what then? Can we find ways to live and govern? Or will we become the next Israel/Palestine/Lebanon/Cyprus? Not many of us will be leaving. So, our choice is to find ways to muddle through or settle for permanent civil war. It pretty well comes down to that fork in the road.
- Can we properly celebrate America and mourn our shortcomings at the same time? Personally, I think we not only can, but we must. To only celebrate is to live the lie and forego any real opportunity for growth and improvement. To only condemn is to shut out others and to deny much that makes this unique country what it can yet be.
The Path Seems Clear to Me
I expect on every July 4 going forward, I will be proud, happy, frustrated, and ashamed. And determined that we will get it right yet. Anything less feels dishonest and lazy, both intellectually and emotionally. I expect to essentially and sadly to write off any efforts to dialogue with some, only to isolate them, but to strive to find connections with others.
What are you Thinking?
I invite you to consider these two questions, and to ask yourself what else if foremost for this country to take on.
A lot of what we are dealing with today was foreseen on the horizon. Much of it was not. So will it be in the future. How we decide those two questions raised here will, in my view, determine how well we meet the challenges and seize the opportunities yet to come.
If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do three things:
(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you wish to share COMMENTS anonymously, make the last word in your comment “PRIVATE.” I will assure your privacy via anonymity.
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Let’s grow our circle.
2 replies to Three Old Blog Posts Came Back to Haunt Me This Week
Thank you, Bill, for your thoughtful reflection in this week’s post. Like you, I feel that I am “loudly and insistently…called out” to deeply reflect on my relationship to my country.
I did not welcome the 2022 Fourth of July with a joyous, pride-filled celebration. Instead, I embraced the holiday as a time for introspection, a time to reexamine many of our national narratives.
We are today a nation that has not lived up to our founding myth and it is time for us to take stock and correct our ways. The fact is that America’s founding principles of freedom, justice and equality are elusive for far too many Americans. Those of us who enjoy a lopsided share of the benefits flowing from those principles have a responsibility to ensure that they become blessings to all. But this would require an immense transformation of our economic, environmental, education, health care and public service priorities.
My hope that this will happen is invested in the rising Y and Z generations, young people of all races who are ready to take ownership of this country and end our hypocrisy. They are demanding–––not asking but demanding––that America’s unequal justice system; America’s economic, educational and social disparities; and America’s imbedded sexism and racism be excised and replaced with a real and substantive equality of opportunity. It is time for us, their elders, to stand with them and work with them to ensure that justice, liberty, and equality is shared equally by all 332,403,650 Americans.
In Nick Bryant’s book, “When America Stopped Being Great,” he made the point that our homeland has never been the country that was envisioned in our founding principles. But that doesn’t mean that we should light fire crackers to celebrate our lofty position in the unequal status quo. Instead, we are called by our posterity to hold fast to those principles and to work to make them tangible in the lives of all Americans.
Then and only then will I joyously dance and sing on the Fourth of July.
As always, a thoughtful and on target reflection, Bill. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We are all better for having read them.