My country hasn’t done much to make me proud lately. But on this Fourth of July, I want to celebrate America that is larger than the sum of its parts. I want to celebrate my America that is more than a country. I want to celebrate America that is a concept, a theory, an experiment.
It’s an America that has always been that — an idea — and hopefully always will be (even if somewhere in the cloud).
There is the United States of America that is reality, a deeply divided country on many levels, and deeply disturbed, angry, unhappy, anxious, place where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has never been broader. And then there is the United States of America that is also reality, a hard-working place where people unite, and give, and bleed and even die for strangers — where kindness is witnessed from the most unexpected places, and where people still care about neighbors.
And both of these realities co-exist in the same place to which people still want to immigrate to, to escape to, to raise children in. Because people know, we all know, that even as this country is living through a dumpster fire of a shitstorm of civil liberties curtailed, cut, removed and excised, we can and will fight for and work to create a “more perfect union.”
We have a dream. We live in a country that was created in a fever dream of freedom. For that is all United States of America is — a concept, an idea some people had for a country. That’s what I want to celebrate, a birthday of a great idea.
Like everything invented by humans, it is not perfect. I think a puppy is perfect, but a puppy will not stay a puppy forever. Eventually it will grow up (and become a perfect dog). So even if this concept was perfect (and I am saying it was definitely NOT perfect, hence the Amendments to fix a lot of glaring problems,) it grew up. We are still a pretty young nation, and we are still maturing. Now it’s no longer a cute little dimpled baby everyone adores, it’s a smelly, rude, moody, obnoxious teenager no one likes, not even himself (yes, forgive me, I cis-gendered America. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I’m waiting. Still waiting. I thought so. I love being correct.) But I am getting carried away on a sea of too many adjectives from my main idea.
I want to celebrate the America that is as close to damn good as just about anything on this planet, the very idea of it, this place where gold is laying on the street (golden opportunities) and all you have to be is not too lazy and pick it up. A place of always belonging, of everyone being so awkward, as to be gloriously themselves, and no one being lonely, or poor, or living without oranges even in the depth of winter. Too much? Nah. Not when we’re celebrating the concept of democracy, freedom and the ability to jump tall buildings in a single bound.
Here’s to you, America. Keep getting better, keep becoming fairer, more just, more independent, more kind, smarter. We’ll help you get there.