Finding America

I’m currently sitting in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, listening to the Grant Park Orchestra present their Independence Day Salute under the direction of Grant Park Chorus Director Christopher Bell.

I never miss this concert. It’s such a pleasant evening, and I arrived late. I was worried.

In past years, the park has gotten so packed that they had to turn people away. But only 20 minutes before the start of the concert, there were seats to spare. I immediately wondered why, and 3 possibilities came to mind:

  1. The Trump Effect
  2. The Heat
  3. The Constant Threat of Rain

Now, when I say the Trump Effect, I mean the toxicity that he has infused to almost any sense of patriotism. My Facebook feed this week has been littered with variations of

“Fuck the 4th of July”

“What is there to celebrate?”

Ad nauseum

Well, I’m certainly not the most patriotic person you’ll ever meet. I don’t salute the flag, I don’t stand during the playing of the “Armed Forces Salute”, etc, etc.

But, I’m happy I’m here. We aren’t the best country in the world, and I don’t believe in the sense of “American Exceptionalism” that conservatives so desperately cling to.

We’re flawed. We’re a country founded by flawed men, smart men, but flawed, and they built a flawed place, based on a flawed set of laws and values.

That sounds like the recipe for the Titanic.

And as we have evolved as a place, and people, we find ourselves arriving in our current predicament, in a fight for the soul of our country.

We are at a strange nexus where we’re struggling for who we will be for the next odd 200 years.

Will we be a country that continues to subjugate and oppress people at every twist and turn?

Or will we be a country that reaches to more closely live the ideals that helped found this place:

“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.”

Also, let’s not forget the next passage:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Important side note: If you have not read the Declaration of Independence this year, today is the perfect day to do so.

We’re at a place where this experiment of American Democracy could potentially be falling apart.

I imagine the tension and schism in thought and ideology we see today is akin to what creates civil wars, to what causes countries to fall in on themselves.

But, what has made America the country that it is, is it’s durability. Our ability to endure the unendurable.

Yes there are concentration camps on the southern border of our country.

Yes the current President is a unintelligent boar who had to get help from a foe of the nation to win his seat.

Yes we still have rampant problems with racism, corruption, sexism, police brutality, white nationalism, and a list of other issues.

And yes, we will get through it all. I have no doubt about it. That’s what we do. That’s why no matter how bad the shit storm gets, our allies still look to us.

Yes, we feel like we’ve lost our moral compass, and yes, it feels like a dark time.

I remember some dark times when I was in Afghanistan. I remember the first time I felt the concussion in my chest of an actual bomb explosion. I remember the first time I heard a friend had died. I remember the first time I had to pull the trigger of my weapon…for real.

And yet, here I sit today.

We endure.

That’s what makes Americans who we are.

We push through, and sometimes with a little panache, although that just seems far away. We fight until we die. I imagine for some, those two options are scary.

Sorry sweetheart.

As my drill sergeants always said,

“Freedom ain’t free, and it ain’t certain.”

We are toiling to achieve it. Unfortunately, that’s part of the process too, but now the fight isn’t in some other place. It’s here, front and center here, and we’re all in it’s midst.

And so I sit here, and I’m not ashamed of the flags flying overhead, or what they stand for. They are a constant evolution…struggle…and in my mind, the state of the nation today is simply a result of too many people hitting the snooze button. But we’ll fix it. Of that I have no doubt.

Happy 4th of July.

So what are your thoughts on the 4th of July? Have your feelings changed on the holiday under the Trump regime?  How did you spend the day? Who had barbecue??? I’m freakin jealous. I’d love to hear all your thoughts in the comments!

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This post was created on an iPhone XR. 

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