Almost 250 years ago, our fledgling nation declared its independence from Britain. Our forefathers set in motion an experiment of freedom and prosperity that we continue today.
Over the years, the significance of this start has faded among Americans. It’s hard to believe many truly reflect on Independence Day’s importance while prioritizing their bbq, drunkness, and fireworks selection.
I spent very little of the day on social media, but when I finally checked last night, I saw hate, shame, and divisiveness.
When we should celebrate the culmination of centuries of philosophical advancement – that brought us to a point where all humans are equal; many were instead divisive.
The idea that we are all equal hasn’t always been absolute.
Many of our ancestors sought a free life in America, to leave persecution behind us, but were often met with hate and derision when they arrived. Degradation occurred when nearly every nationality immigrated to our shores – including the Irish, Italians, Germans, Chinese, and more.
Even worse, some were brought to our nation in chains, against their will, and sold to the highest bidder. They lived their lives as property, subservient to another. Hardly an application that we all share the same Creator.
Not one of us is perfect, and we all share the scars we have inflicted upon each other. Some wounds are certainly deeper than others and take longer to heal.
But what makes America great is not merely the words that were written on a document 200 years ago, but our continual urge to fulfill the statement, growing our potential.
Sometimes our growing pains are severe. 655,000 Americans died when brother set against brother, and father against son, in our war to abolish slavery.
Even still, we’ve continued to have setbacks – the Jim Crow laws and the Japanese internment are examples.
But where do we find ourselves today?
We appear to be caught between two opposing camps. One seems to feel we can do no wrong and ignores the plights of others, and another feels America is evil because perfection yet eludes us.
While slavery is a greater evil than America may face today, it does not excuse the fact many are stuck in a cycle of poverty. This poverty has entangled communities, mostly of minorities, for generations. To assist these communities, we give them inferior educations, and we break families. We incentivize criminal activity and then respond with force.
These injustices are likely a cause of some of the protests we see today.
A protest in front of the White House, burned the American flag, stating our nation had never been great.
And though I’m not a statist who believes we should ban flag burning, placing the flag above the principles it represents, I find the ultimate message of these protesters to be ironic.
Few nations in history would allow one to take their protest to the front door of their nation’s leader, speak against the leader and government, and then burn the banner that flies over that government.
And that’s a reason why our nation is great and why we should be celebrating our independence. We have the opportunity to address our flaws and grow as a nation.
The idea that We The People control our destiny is still a new and revolutionary idea that exists only in the most recent of human history.
And though our system isn’t perfect, it’s the best system yet developed by imperfect beings.
Instead of polarizing ourselves, we must come together and fight the injustices that remain. We must remove any hindrance to freedom one may face, allowing every American to realize their fullest potential.
We must unite and work together.