That’s what we’re all celebrating together this week. Independence from tyranny. Independence in our ability to practice our respective faiths. Independence in thought and speech.
It doesn’t matter if you agree with your neighbor’s politics, if he or she has guns, who that person loves, or who or what an individual worships. At the end of the day, if we’re citizens of this crazy experiment conducted by our forefathers, we’re all independence-celebrating Americans.
Think of us like a giant, dysfunctional family. We argue. We draw our lines in the sand. We pontificate, we stereotype, we ridicule and we shame one another until we’re red, white and blue in the face, and, yeah, you guessed it — we’re still independence-celebrating Americans.
That’s not to trivialize our differences, by any means. We do believe different things, and we should argue our points and fight for what we believe to be right. We should organize with other like-minded folks if we want to see any real change come down the pike, and we should do our research to combat the opinions put forth by those we disagree with on myriad subjects.
But we should do this on the premise of independence, not cruelty to others — with a keen eye on maintaining a healthy respect for our neighbors’ independence, and their own unique right to believe what they believe, and to live their respective lives the way they see fit, as long as it does not infringe on the way we live our own respective lives.
Look around you this week. You’ll see flags in the hands and on the front yards of people who identify as Democrats and Republicans. You’ll see children holding sparklers, with care-free faces expressing joy. You’ll smell barbecues across these fruited plains, and the scent of Old Bay hanging in the air.
In short, there will be Americans celebrating the fact that they’re Americans.
We are a nation divided now. To be honest, we’ve been a nation divided since the very start. There were many who wished that we didn’t declare our independence from the British Empire, as the British purchased goods from the colonists, protected them from Native American and European nations, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. It wasn’t until the British started taxing the colonists to pay for their extended war with France that the pro-revolution folks were able to garner enough support to seek independence. That still didn’t convince everyone that revolution was the answer.
Consider this nugget presented by Lee Habeeb, in a 2018 Newsweek column:
“A pensive and awful silence pervaded the house as we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress,” explained Benjamin Rush, a Philadephia physician and social reformer who signed the Declaration of Independence. He said the pressure was enormous as they signed “what was believed by many at that time to be our death warrant.”
We’ve seen divides throughout our history every time we find ourselves going to war, and we have seen immigrants treated inhumanely over and over and over again, including Italians, Chinese, Irish, Jewish and Central Americans.
And we had slavery, people. As in... people in this very nation used to own other human beings. It started a horrible war that saw 620,000 Americans die fighting one another. Even that didn’t really solve any deep-seeded issues. Look up Jim Crow laws and just continue reading from there.
So, yeah, division in this nation is as American as hotdogs, apple pie and suffocating debt-accumulation. People get beat up or spit upon for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, and others get tormented or assaulted for their accents or sexual orientations.
But it is getting old, right?
Haven’t we reached a point yet when we can co-exist, debate each other and even argue without deteriorating into violence, pre-pubescant name-calling and questioning the patriotism of people who disagree with us, or look or pray differently?
Probably not. It’s our thing. It’s what we do. Well, that and play with our cell phones while we drive.
This is a time of year for us to celebrate our similarities, instead of deepening divides over our differences. Enjoy all that it means to be an American, even if it means you have to respect other Americans for a couple days.