Getting older, one can become more cynical, more realistic, more idealistic, more involved, more aloof. Time is ticking away. At the same time, one gets a better sense of perspective and history because there is a definite pattern of repetition in life. Personal history is one long narrative. Family history blends in with local and national history, which in turn leads to world history. Someday we may have a sense of a history across the cosmos, as in, hey, my parents colonized Mars in 2892!
I am not too happy with the increasing political polarization in today’s politics, nor the corruption, nor the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots. I dislike the wars we are fighting. I dislike the search for a scapegoat, namely the illegal immigrant, and laws being drafted making it okay to target certain populations. On the other hand, I can say what I think, live in a country which is peaceable in many ways and is politically stable, and am not forced to conform to a state idea of what is acceptable religion and what is not.
Days which celebrate a country’s history need to be days of reflection of its people – for the country’s ideals and visions, as well as a concern for what is best for all in the country, not just a few. Internationally, we try to make things work, just as we do on a local level, or within our families.
Is the U.S.A. perfect? Hardly. Neither is the rest of the world. Countries around the world are filled with humans who have history, loyalty, aesthetics, political ideas, conflict, needs, morals, religion. National holidays, such as July 4th, celebrate our own uniqueness, but need to also be filled with an appreciation for the rest of the world, and our part and place in it. We are not the only ones on the planet. We need to share, and do it responsibly.
Yes, this is rather giddy-eyed idealism, but I prefer to look at life this way. Granted, I am not starving, I am not unemployed, nor am I living in a country which is in the throes of revolution or isolated and surrounded by enemies. I have the luxury of such thoughts and such hopes because I am not concerned about my next meal or if I will be attacked on the way to the well. I am fortunate, more so than many in my own country or elsewhere in the world.
What, then, is my responsibility as a citizen, as a human, as a member of the planet?