What does the Fourth of July symbolize, and who are we, as a nation? Is being patriotic about fighting for freedom or maintaining peace? Is it about standing up for others or protecting our own? There are so many points of contention and disagreement on the subject, which are always ripe for discussion at this time of year. Granted, it’s absolutely essential to evaluate who we are and where we’re going, as a nation and as citizens. It’s our responsibility to be take in that process. And yet.
And There Were Lights – Sitting Under the Same Sky on the Fourth of July
It’s silly, but when I try to imagine the heart of America, the folks who go about their lives with clear eyes and full hearts, I think of fictional representations in one of my all-time favorite shows, “Friday Night Lights.” Fiction isn’t real, but sometimes it shines light on reality. I never thought I’d find a better example of heart, dignity and pride than in a little town in Texas, where residents live and breathe football. But there it is, every week, tugging at my heart-strings and making me re-think my preconceptions about people.
We tend to gravitate toward our own, and that’s natural. Like-minded people share our values, our interests, our likes and dislikes. But they also share our prejudices and our misunderstandings of “others” — whether they’re Texans, Minnesotans or Californians. We’re all guilty of it, as much as we hate to admit it.
I’m choosing to see this fourth of July as a time to set aside our differences. Fireworks have always dazzled me, because I love that as I’m sitting outside, watching the sky, so too are thousands of people across my city and all over the country. It’s a unifying force, really, and maybe fireworks can seem excessive, but to me, even as I’ve grown older, it’s always been a magical experience.
This weekend, as we celebrate the birth of our nation, let’s celebrate the fact that as Americans, we’re one heck of a diverse group of people. And once we start accepting and embracing that uniqueness, we’ll start to recognize that we’re all really sitting under the same sky.