I have been noticing for a few years now that national holidays tend to bring out the best in people - and sometimes the worst. July 4th seems to be no exception. And I think it leaves us all scratching our heads, wondering how that’s possible. After all, there are really not that many significant holidays throughout the year, and they all tend to focus mostly on the positive: celebrating our nation’s birthday, celebrating the lives of those who do the real work and those that fight for freedom, giving thanks, and celebrating a handful of religious events.
Now it seems to me that all of those holidays have one thing in common: the countless of references to a handful of powerful abstracts, such as Freedom, Peace, Respect, and Love. That’s all well and good, except that no two people I know can agree on the definition of much more mundane words, like, say, “Burrito” or “ Hanging Chad”. So how are we supposed to unanimously agree on concepts that are a thousand times more complex?
Maybe if we found a more balanced middle ground we would stand a fighting chance to finally and truly grasp these few but significant annual milestones. I mean, surely the answer lies somewhere between Love and a Burrito. Between Freedom and a Hanging Chad (OK I admit there’s a little irony in that last random comparison, but I swear it was unintentional.)
Let’s take Memorial Day and Independence Day for a moment, appropriately so on this sunny July 4th (if it’s not sunny where you are, just use your imagination.) Every year, on these two days, you can hear the same two awkward extremes from a very loud yet thankfully small minority of people: on the one hand you hear one of these extremes proclaiming that this is the time when we celebrate our freedom as the free-est freedom fighters in the history of freedom. And then there’s the other extreme, people that are angry about the senseless killing that takes place during unnecessary wars.
So on this beautiful July 4th, I would like to proclaim independence from both of these groups. These two very vocal minorities are clearly missing a point that, thankfully, the silent majority seems to grasp rather well: if you are not truly independent, a part of you is already dead. This unalienable right knows no borders, it is a universal truth. America did not invent this concept, but it sure did improve on it.
Happy birthday America. The world is a better place, thanks in great part to you. And you are also a better place, thanks in great part to the world.