Happy 4th of July, my fellow Americans!
This year I can't help but notice the wincing pain, mixed with an almost panicked desperation as I see my friends, colleagues, and social media network sounding off on today's holiday.
Let me be (possibly) the first to tell you this:
It is WONDERFUL to be an American. In fact, since we just concluded Pride Month, I’m going to celebrate July as The Month of aMerica. Later this week I’ll share some reasons that I find it wonderful to be an American, and I’d love your input as well. Throughout the month we’ll explore a wide range of topics about these United States of America.
Still, I know, how can I possibly say that it’s wonderful to be an American with all that's going on? Let me ask you this - should we at least find it a little bit ironic that no matter where you stand on any issue currently, you likely fear our country is headed for the worst?
How can it be that each party as well as members of all political leanings can feel ostracized, afraid, sad, concerned for the soul of the nation, and as always, entirely convinced that God is on your side?
Let’s get the abortion discussion out of the way first, because that is front of mind for everyone right now. Whether or not abortion is a religious issue, it is most definitely an ethical issue. Looking at the matter ethically simply removes a large portion of divisiveness and preconceived notions from the associated discussions. If we are looking for progress, this is a good place to begin our own internal reflections on the matters, as well as any discussions we may have with those of differing viewpoints.
Here are a few quick points about the Roe V. Wade situation that may or may not be helpful as you process the Supreme Court's decision:
Roe V. Wade was a sloppy ruling, and in the past fifty years since it was passed, that matter wasn't truly addressed. It was a privacy case (a la HIPAA), but it was overreaching because it failed to address the ethical and even practical elements of this highly controversial and emotionally charged topic.
In the early 1970’s, the US was already making headway in understanding this topic and the need for a solution, and instead of continuing along that course, activist judges took a privacy case and expanded it to reach far beyond the parameters of the case.
Unsurprisingly, this caused terminal damage between supporters and opponents of this volatile issue
Now in 2022, a new group of activist judges overturned the 1973 ruling. Had they merely cited the court’s overreach of the 1973 ruling, this would have been a fairly straightforward constitutional law case. However, they also overreached in their decisions, almost as though they were intentionally building weaknesses into their own rulings. Almost.
The vast majority of Americans want a responsible compromise between the irresponsibly wide parameters that fell under Roe vs. Wade and a full reversal as well. We are arguing with each other over something we mostly all agree upon. Who is this helping? Other than those who profit on our discourse, fear, and opposition?
MOVING ON PAST ROE V. WADE
Independence Day was initially a day where we celebrated our independence from Great Britain. You may not recall this, but before England was a country mostly known for the Crowndashians, they were also a bit naughty, as all nations tend to be from time to time. Also, unlike Canada, the US didn’t want to pay England’s pimp fee, essentially. We had to schlep all the way over here to get away from them, and we were then supposed to pay them for the privilege of our escape? Nah.
And I’m just kidding, Canada. You’ve done a great job chipping away at the costs of Mother England, and as of 2021, Canada was only paying England just under $59 Million annually for their support and the expense of their visits. I think that’s what we pay for a cheeseburger in Washington, DC, so that’s not as much money as you may think.
America was, at least theoretically, founded upon the principles of equality, freedom, economic opportunity, and due process. It is exceedingly difficult for an established nation to maintain those principles since power and money are so often forces of corruption. We enjoyed bragging rights for years, and now we’re finally seeing the quicksand that is establishment. We weren’t better or worse than many other established nations, we were simply newer.
Think of it like this: if you look at the skin of a 20-year-old, you likely won’t see any wrinkles. They may also embrace their youth as a value of theirs, but as time marches on, the wrinkles are very hard to avoid. As it turns out, if we want to keep wrinkles out of our freedom, we’re going to need to be hypervigilant always, never taking our freedom as a given. It is ours to fight for and ours to lose. And the only way we can keep it is if we work together.
OUR CURRENT NATIONAL DISCOURSE IS A LUXURY PROVIDED BY OUR FREEDOM
When I was growing up, I had an older sister who wanted little to do with me, especially when she had friends over. As a bratty little kid who was only further-challenged by exclusion, I would try to wiggle my way into her visits with her friends, as she’d scold me to leave them alone. I would slump back to my room, knowing in my heart that they were missing out on the fun by not having me there and also that my sister was so mean!
If my sister and I grew up in a house without enough food to eat, or with parents who were addicts, or in another unsafe environment, we would have to band together to look out for each other, keeping each other safe and okay…just trying to survive. My sister and I loved each other very much, and our silly spats were a result of the comfort we lived within. We didn’t have the severe challenges others did, so we found our own conflict.
As we look at the Ukrainian people fighting against the massive force of Putin’s Russia, I think it’s highly unlikely they are worried about whether their comrades are going through a third divorce or if they eat meat or if they protect their home with a firearm or if they love someone with matching parts. I’m going to guess their priority is strictly survival and FREEDOM.
Back to the point about Roe V. Wade - by far the majority of Americans are within a band of compromise to move forward, addressing the flaws in the previous rulings, and had we done so proactively, we could have avoided a massive overcorrection. However, we are so busy playing political thumb wars, we never actually get anything done that matters.
That is the luxury of freedom that I’m referring to.
We need to remain vigilant to protect our freedom, as well as our fellow Americans, even if we disagree with the way they vote. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to vote period. More importantly, our oppositions tend to land us in the middle, demonstrating once again that our differences make us stronger. The answer is almost never found in the extremes.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS ESSENTIALLY VOLUNTARY MIND CONTROL
That’s a little bit extreme but allow me to explain: We think that social media is a conduit for discussion and understanding, when in all actuality, it is an accelerant to fear, paranoia, direct-to-brain advertising, and hatred.
I hear so many people comment on the state of our nation based on what they see on social media and the news. I’ll comment on the news and the media in a future post, but for now, let’s all agree that if anyone is profiting on piling information into our heads without any accountability, they probably don’t have our best interests at heart.
However, my larger concern is the volume of people who believe the opinions and messages they see on social media reflects the intent of the country. In almost all cases, the only people leveraging social media to post and explore divisive topics are those living in the extremes. Most of us are in the middle, leaning to one side or another, but we are not the ones sounding off on social media. Probably because we realize that’s typically a terrible idea. And also because if we’re truly trying to learn and understand, then reading too much into the comments of some super drunk guy you went to high school with probably isn’t likely where we’ll find indication of where most people actually are on a particular issue.
Do not be afraid to have your beliefs challenged. Do not be afraid to listen and learn. The worst that can happen is that you may learn something, find a new respect for someone, or instill respect in someone else just for being open enough to listen.
I have an ongoing internal giggle about how sacredly we hold our political views. It’s as if we are all certain we are absolutely correct about all of our beliefs. In what other area of life do we just assume we are correct based on our gut instinct, maybe some light research, and typically something we know almost nothing about? And yet, when it comes to politics, we are all armchair experts.
I assume I’m about 50% right about my beliefs. I always keep an open mind, and my views and understandings evolve by the day. I also realize that with a 50/50 shot of being right, my personal opinion isn’t really of great consequence, so I’m better off searching for understanding, collaboration, and compromise than forcing my half-right (maybe) view onto others.
THE LAST TIME WE WERE TRULY UNITED
9/11 is a day that I will FEEL, rather than simply remember, for the rest of my life. And one of the most visceral responses was the love and hope I felt for and with my fellow Americans in the days and weeks that followed. We were never so strong, nor so together as a nation - in my lifetime - as we were after we were under a devastating and terrifying attack.
It’s been just over 20 years, and we are already forgetting that we must stand UNITED. We are not our own enemy unless we choose to be. We are stronger together, BECAUSE of our differences, and not despite them. We do not need to change each other; we need to listen to each other.
Okay, sure, are there some who we don’t need to listen to? Yes, they are the ones who have already sounded off on social media, so that’s how we can spot ‘em. 😉 However, the majority of us have shared values, morals, and even faith in many cases.
I realize that’s a radical statement, but if you pull your head out of the news and the interwebs and merely speak openly and respectfully with the people around you, you’re going to find the same. But someone has to be first.
So this Independence day, I’d like to challenge us all as an American people to exercise our independence against the fear, distain, and divisiveness that we consume through our screens.
I’d like to challenge us to seek out understanding, love, and respect for those we differ from.
Mostly, I’d like to remind us all that the lives that have been sacrificed to give us this freedom we enjoy came at a great cost, and it is a great disrespect to walk through our privileged lives without gratitude and hope for all we have been given.
It is now up to us to protect this gifted freedom, and I believe that’s the greatest opportunity we all have to once again come together as a flawed but hopeful nation.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!