Happy Fourth of July, everyone! It’s a beautiful day here in the nation’s capital, and spirits are high. Many folks I’ve talked with are headed down to the Mall to watch the fireworks and celebrate with the masses of people who will do the same. I myself am too old for such revelry (and too lazy to fight the crowds) so my celebration will happen right here on the roof.
Regardless of where you’re celebrating today, I wonder if this holiday is one that creates as much dis-ease in you as it does in me? On the one hand, the last thing I want to be is the kind of person who blindly touts God and country, promoting a patriotism that creates a dangerous kind of nationalism. It seems to me that it’s too easy in this world to let fear get the best of us, to allow our discomfort with people who are different cause us to lock down and become isolationists, losing all the rich possibilities that this whole wide world extends to us all.
On the other hand, for all its warts, we live in an amazing country; we are recipients of incredible gifts of prosperity and freedom, given the possibility of a rich cultural and national heritage to pass down to our children. Maybe we forget that many in our world do not enjoy the kind of life we have as Americans.
So, Happy Birthday, America. On this day I am giving thanks for the many gifts of being born in a country like ours, and offering prayers that we would always remember the fragile gift of that freedom and the obligations we have as citizens of the world.