Happy Birthday America
(even if you are going through a phase I don't totally understand)
Let's face it, we are not always at our best. And yet we still have birthdays, and the people who love us celebrate with us.
If we are honest with ourselves, there is at least one year, if not more, in which we were difficult for those around us. Whether we were tantruming toddlers, angsty adolescents, young adults searching for traction in life, having a mid life crisis, or in the middle of some other difficult time.
And in those years, people in our world might have had to squint a little to see the building blocks of a good human that had come before, and the promise for the things that come after, hidden behind the chaos of the moment. Yet they still sang happy birthday, gave us presents, showed us love.
This is how I feel today. All that is easy to see is a citizenry that seems to live in at least two if not more entirely separate universes and cannot hear each other at all, a series of potentially devastating Supreme Court decisions that only serve to increase the polarization, and a profound lack of a shared vision for who we are.
Among other things adding to the noise, the chaos, and the worry that we are not who we need to be right now to face the challenges to come: war in the Ukraine, mass shootings, climate change, inflation without real economic growth, and a pandemic that is not yet over.
If I squint in just the right way, I can see the building blocks, as well as the promise for the future. If we do not burn it down, or begin selectively choosing which parts to honor, we have a pretty remarkable balance of power in our government that should allow us to continue to evolve in a rationale and principled way. We actually have the ability and the knowledge to solve a great deal of the problems we face, if we can find the collective will.
If we had some way to check in with every resident of this country, I think we would find most people have a better capacity to hear each other and work together than we are currently led to believe.
As Albert Camus once wrote:
"I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice."
I am determined to do both, but it requires all of us to be the people at the birthday party and after who see and hear beyond the chaos, and who can help guide this birthday child in the future.
Happy birthday, America- I love you anyway.
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