Beyond BBQs and Fireworks

Jul 04

Beyond BBQs and Fireworks

PATRIOTISM IS EASY.  You wave the flag, honor God and those who have served and even died for our freedom.  Sounds so simple.

But, it’s not.  Ask a Native American.  Ask any young, black male. Ask an Iraqi mother.  Ask a Mexican man making his way across the searing desert heat so he can stand around the Home Depot parking lot to get some day labor work.  Ask the millions of former middle class Americans whose homes and jobs have been lost, while their rent and grocery bills keep going up.   Before the health care reform, many Americans (including my family) were devastated financially because of health care bills and loss of income and businesses.  Ask anyone whose child got cancer because of polluted ground water due to unrestrained commercial interests, bribes and just plain ignorance.  If the average American had time or energy to catch up on the news at the end of the day, they’d be really pissed, learning that CEO compensation has shot up 127% just in the last few years, and CEOs make 380 times what their average workers make.  No CEO is worth that much.

Things are changing, and not for the better, for most Americans.

That said, I still love my country. Why?

I am an eternal optimist.  Probably because I don’t like the alternative. I have to have hope, or why bother getting up in the morning to fight the good fight one more day?  But it’s more than that.

As messy as the origins and history of my country are, up to and including the Iraq war, which I was adamantly against, the seeds are there.  The principals of equality and freedom are what I am loyal to, not the actions of many U. S. Presidents and politicians. We have the foundation.  We have the opportunity.  But we have to pay attention.  We need to learn about history – our history and the history of the world.

We can still vote.  My wish this Independence Day is that we take that right seriously, that we go beyond BBQs and Fireworks and do the work that we need to do to create the nation we love.

I hope someday that we go beyond nations, and have one planet of people who put the interests of future generations before their own, and live together in harmony.  What we do matters.  The ecology of the planet alone should let us know we have to learn to work together if our species is to survive and have a habitable planet to enjoy.

Anyone who can not visualize that is not trying hard enough.  I have no illusions that human beings will not always have a percentage of people who are aggressive or mentally ill or just plain greedy and corrupt.  But the majority of people are good.  Let’s put the majority in control, not the minority.  The first step is to get it right here at home.  Start small.  Start with yourself.  Start with your family, your neighborhood, your workplace.

We can do it.  :)  Happy 4th of July!





  1. FRED /

    Very well stated and I agree that America is a good place to live if you are wealthy. I understand now what Shaw said many decades ago: “the one thing we learn from history, is that we learn nothing from history”. I have little doubt that the U.S. will go the way of the dodo bird eventually, the only question is when…Wish I had your optimism.

    • admin /

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Fred. As I typed that post, the thought came to me to pick one issue, and then after researching it, decide which aspect of that issue would be most productive for me to address. If I’m concerned about global warming, for example, where are my efforts best focused? No politician pays attention to an email or phone call that says “Do something about global warming.” If they’re going to pay attention at all, it’s going to be about a specific bill or plank in their platform. I’m going to take my own advice and let you know how it goes :) Anyone else have ideas on how to tackle the issues we face?

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