As we close in on another 4th of July in the midst of a pandemic there is a sense of optimism that has been largely absent surrounding a major holiday celebration. Despite the worrying variants of the strains of the virus circulating about, most Americans do believe that the end of the pandemic is well within sight and they are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day as it should be celebrated. Despite the palpable and justified optimism surrounding the 4th of July and the pandemic seemingly receding, an overlooked aspect of the holiday might be that we are in a very different place as a country since the Fourth of July last year and any other one before. Not since the Vietnam War have we seen a society as sharply critical of their country as a whole, not just the leaders, elected or otherwise, but just the country in general. Just a few days ago an American athlete competing at the United States Olympic trials intentionally turned away from the flag while the national anthem was being played. Given that this is America, the right to peacefully protest is sacred and must be defended, but let us lower the temperature a little bit despite the recent heat waves, let us stop with the narrative of ‘us’ versus ‘them'’ which leads nowhere positive or productive. The political tensions, coupled with the frustration of being in this pandemic for more than a year has led to a fully combustible situation in the United States, where you see people losing patience with one another, allowing meanness to prevail. A society can only work as well as the members of it allow, meaning we will go nowhere fast without people helping one another not just in times of need but in general, and lifting up instead of tearing down.
Instead of a superficial Fourth of July holiday, fun as it is, let’s make it more than just lounge chairs, barbecues, and your favorite beer. We are certainly at an inflection point in our society where we have to once again try to make everybody that is an American feel like they belong here, that they are welcome here – and that the flag that so many have died for and so many have sacrificed for, represents them too. Try to spend 4th of July in a way that is welcoming, warm, friendly, and let's build a better Nation moving forward – just the way the founders intended. Happy Birthday America!