It’s the 4th of July and the cloudless sky is filled with flickers of distant bursts of red, white and blue explosions. The puffs they leave behind float in trails above the rounded maple and the tall stately oak trees. Pennsylvania celebrates the independence it birthed 241 years ago. In a handsome brick building with a spire like a church building, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence stood around in tights and wigs, hyped up on dreams of keeping their money safe from the King’s tax demands. Future generations would add more depth to their original desires for financial freedoms. The common man would add the demand for racial equality, immigration and women’s rights, fair labor laws and a security program for the disabled and elderly. We would improve upon the original ideas of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It’s not likely that the men who presented it to King George anticipated that the great-great grandchildren of their slaves, North and South, would one day demand freedom or that women like their wives would have the power to vote. But things have happened despite the wishes of the “founding fathers”. Thank God. They were geniuses, no doubt, but they were far from ideal human beings. They did have the forethought to anticipate change, and for that, I really love them.
As I drove home from a small 4th of July celebration with only my family, I couldn’t help but notice a much lesser number of flags hanging on front doors and porches and a decidedly less enthused America remembering its revolutionary past. I don’t care who you are, if you think America is in a good place right now, you’re not paying attention. There’s an overall sense of apprehension, a heaviness, about where we are going and what the future holds for this imperfect nation we love. People aren’t celebrating our heritage and independence like we did even a year ago today. We’re less proud right now. A great many of us are ashamed of our present image in the world, of our ghastly president who acts like deranged baboon. How did we get here? is a statement I’ve heard repeated continuously since last November. The countdown to 2018 and 2020 is ticking pensively every day in millions of worried minds across the nation.
We’ve done so many great things in our history. We’ve done so many horrible things too. Our present is proof that we are capable of great mistakes. My prayer is that life gets better for People of Color, for immigrants, for members of the LGBT community, for women and children and for the men who support them in every way. For all Americans. My prayer on this 4th of July is that God will free of us our present state and present leadership and give us statesmen like Lincoln or FDR, or better yet–a stateswoman–and that we’ll remember that it’s the tired and the poor who have really made us great, the workers and the worn-down patriots who volunteer to defend the freedoms we aim to realize completely. Our greatness has never left us (contrary to some political sales gimmicks) but our pride is deflated.
God bless us all in 2017, and God bless America.