Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.
Today is July 4th. Across most of the world, it’s simply the day after July 3rd. But here in the United States, it’s a day of celebration. On this day in 1776 a group of men gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence, and a new nation was born. It was an act of bravery. It was an act of defiance. And it was an act of hope. It was the realization of a dream – a land of their own.
It was also an act that marked the escalation of a war already in progress. Over the next seven years, as many as 113,000 soldiers and sailors on both sides would lose their life, either through combat or as the result of infection, starvation, or disease. To each of them, it was a fight worth winning.
Today is the day we honor those brave patriots. We raise flags, have cookouts, and watch fireworks at the end of the day. Some will attend parades, and others will have to work just like any other day. But even then, it’s with an air of celebration and hope. Because not only do we celebrate our independence, today we celebrate our future.
Patriotism means different things to different people. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” That’s pretty simple. And in the very next sentence, an example of the word in usage, it reads, “Although poles apart ideologically, they are both unashamed of their patriotism.” Read that again, and let it sink in. It’s important.
What makes a nation great is not a population of citizens blindly marching to the same beat. It’s people from all walks of life, with different beliefs and values, with an ancestry tied to nations around the globe, from all races and religious backgrounds, united by a single common thread – love for their country.
Are there people in your family who don’t share your values? Are there close friends whose choices don’t always meet with your approval? You may disagree from time to time, quietly or openly. You may even argue. But at the end of the day, do you still love that person regardless of those differences? Of course, you do.
Love for one another doesn’t mean we always agree. It doesn’t even mean we respect their opinion. It simply means we respect their right to have an opinion, and to express it as peacefully (or forcefully) as we express our own. And sometimes, that means quietly accepting defeat when they make a stronger case or win the battle at hand.
But it’s hard to accept defeat, to admit we may have been wrong, or that others are entitled to their opinion as well. Just as we want what’s best for our children, we want what’s best for our country. And all that really means is we want what we think is best for our country, based on our own values and convictions. But that’s not patriotism. It’s idealism. And the two can be very easily confused.
Civil debate is a healthy thing – asking questions and considering an opposing point of view. It’s how we grow as individuals and as a nation. And sometimes that means questioning, or even openly disagreeing, with the actions taken by those elected to represent us. It’s not unpatriotic to disagree with your leaders as long as your intent is to effect positive change.
Yet, we live in a time where opinions run strong and civil discourse often escalates into heated debate. Spend ten minutes reading some of the political chats on social media and you’ll see some of the worst possible behavior by people who claim to be patriotically and morally superior to those with whom they disagree. That’s not civil debate. It’s a verbal free-for-all that nobody ever wins.
As our nation celebrates its independence today, there will be some who prefer a quiet day with family, and others who want all the pomp and circumstance of a day filled with parades and fireworks. Some will silently protest, and others will celebrate like it’s … well, the fourth of July.
We won’t always agree with everybody around us. We may not even agree with those closest to us. And we will certainly have opinions about those who establish policies that impact the way we live. That’s not only okay, it’s good. It’s healthy, and it’s what democracy is all about. It’s what makes a nation great – people willing to challenge the status quo in search of something better.
If we’d never challenged the notion of picking up a rock to move it, we may never have discovered the simplicity of the wheel. Stagnation occurs in a closed body of water. It also occurs in a closed mind. In order to grow, we must open our hearts and minds to other ideas. When we can do that in a spirit of compassion and cooperation, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!
© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved