Let the Meaning of 4th of July Last
Meghan and I want to wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day and holiday weekend. As we sit here with our little kids, while they play a board game, we can’t help but feel thankful for them. But, as we reach and move beyond another 4th of July, it’s important for us to wish for something else – teaching our kids to be kind and accepting to all people.
There are many things happening in this world, and this country, that make us feel helpless, including the horror of many things that seem to take place on a daily basis. So, what can we do? We hope we can try to offer some words of encouragement, or some semblance of making sure we remember the meaning behind becoming a free nation all those many years ago, including the sacrifices made to ensure everyone has the right to be.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I’m pretty sure that when this document was created, it was intended to last. I’m also pretty sure the use of “men” wasn’t intended to exclude anyone. All of our lives are vastly different from one another, but all of us should be able to find some common ground on something. We should all recognize that this country was formed imperfectly, but the idea behind its foundation is clear, “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Does this mean that anyone who doesn’t believe in a higher power is somehow less than anything? Does it seem ridiculous that it took so long for women to vote, which the 19th Amendment celebrated its 100th anniversary earlier this year? 143 years of inequality. The 13th Amendment came after the end of the Civil War in which slavery was abolished in 1865. 89 years of inequality. And we’re still facing issues of inequality and bias today, even after the country has passed laws to ensure everyone is given every opportunity afforded to them in the document created for Independence Day.
If someone looks different, does it mean they’re less? If someone believes in science or faith, does it mean the opposite side isn’t equal? If a person speaks a different language, does that mean we should automatically fear what we don’t understand? How many more questions need to be asked before everyone realizes that this country and this world are bigger than the existences we have? We’re only here for so long, but future generations will be living their lives based on the freedoms we defend and inspire today.
Injustices are happening. It’s not easy to see constant coverage on the news, feeling helpless to believe that our voices matter – but they have to matter. That’s why our laws exist. It’s supposed to be the reason our government exists, despite the constant fighting seen from one side to another. Shouldn’t the rights for all people include an iota of common sense? If the people who are in charge of caring for its population see atrocities, or anything that doesn’t represent the reasons we celebrate Independence Day, and do nothing, then why are they in office?
There are plenty of reasons to be afraid – just being a parent generates such feelings. There are plenty of reasons to feel sadness or anger – losing loved ones during times of war or from cancer can be felt by many. If you look at someone and those feelings generate within your soul, why? As a straight, white man, I do not know the first thing about what it means to be black, gay, Puerto Rican, from Flint, Michigan, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, or many other things that do not represent my own reflection in the mirror.
We have neighbors who are both black and white. I don’t know what it feels like to walk a day in any of their shoes. That being the case, it makes it very easy to not form any kinds of judgment on who they are. It can be difficult to find peace within our own souls so why worry about the things that should always inspire us and not generate intolerance – the differences make us all unique and that’s why it’s so interesting to talk to anyone. Everyone will have a different perspective from someone else at some point in time, but that doesn’t mean anyone, at any point in time, is less than deserving to hold onto those words inspired on July 4, 1776.
How do we get beyond this fragile time in our country? If someone else loves a dog, it’s okay that you just love cats. If someone loves chocolate chip cookies, but you hate desserts (WHO ARE YOU?), that doesn’t mean either person is wrong. If someone who has brown hair kisses another who has red hair, that doesn’t mean it’s anything less than people sharing affection – something we all deserve. Are these examples simple (and possibly weird), of course they are. But, isn’t that the point?
Love your life. Let others love their life. Remember most of us in this world are strangers. It seems like an awful lot of time is being spent dismissing the lives of those we’ve never met. Wouldn’t you rather share a beer with a stranger than yell at each other? And maybe, after you talk with each other for a minute, you’ll see how those differences become fewer and fewer, because time was taken to get to know the person you might not have normally talked to – because they’re strangers.
I’m not saying anyone has to listen to me. I’m just a guy trying to be a dedicated husband and father, seemingly failing at earning money at his craft; uh, I’m a writer. I hope you’ll listen. Not because I want likes or shares, but because I want people to start healing. I want more people in power to start caring. I want everyone to be taken care of – military who go oversees to help people (strangers) from other countries, homeless people (strangers) who are trapped on the streets, refugees (strangers) in cages, to the countless number of families (strangers) who’ve been affected by loss from gun violence, to everyday people (strangers) I’ve never met who have their own lives and loved ones to take care of.
Perhaps, a way to heal is quite simply the easiest thing we can do, but we’ve somehow lost the capacity to do in today’s age in social media – when someone else speaks, it’s okay to just listen.