Here is the USA, it’s Independence Day. 4th of July. A national holiday.
In every community across the land, public gatherings and celebrations provide opportunities for citizens and visitors alike to acknowledge what makes the USA great — its freedoms, liberty, and more and more, its diversity and open society. Yes we have problems here. Every country does. But what we do about those problems is that we decide together what solutions we want. And then, somehow, we make that happen.
Usually the process is messy and noisy. And the results may not be what every last person wanted. But it works. Generally. When it doesn’t? We keep trying until enough of us can finally rest and say, “OK, that could work. Let’s try that for a while and see.” We’re a nation of innovators, dreamers, people who aspire to greatness and hold hope for something wonderful to always be in the making. If I had to say what makes America great, that would be about as close as I can come to nailing it. (Or perhaps I’d have to have a whole bunch of tries at it, which would actually be more typical of how the USA gets things done.)
Instead of celebrating how much we’re separate from one another (as in “The Lone Ranger” mentality) we’re learning how to connect in new ways and not insist so much on “going it alone” in the world — or having to be “right” rather than being curious about how to work things out among us. That journey has been slow and not at all clear about where it’s heading. Maybe that’s to do with how each of us is evolving at our own pace; some of us are evolving faster than others. And so it is everywhere, I suppose.
But the thing I like most about being here? We’re finally realizing (slowly but surely) that being independent doesn’t mean to be isolated from the rest of the world. Slowly, we’re learning how to reach out hands to other countries and cultures, in peace and friendship, to make something that serves a greater good. We seem to be moving away from isolationism, nationalism, and all the other ugly unworkable “isms” and heading towards a world that takes into consideration the stark and unavoidable fact that we all share the same planet. Together. Whatever we do or don’t do, it affects us all — every living being.
We here in the USA have made a lot of mistakes. We will probably make more. But at last it looks like there’s more to celebrate than the independence and birth of our nation; we’re just about ready to step out onto the world stage as a willing partner in interdependence and inter-relationships. That, to my way of thinking, is truly worth celebrating.
We’re starting to grow up as a country. As other countries around the world shed their old forms, sometimes abruptly and violently, and sometimes peacefully but not without stress, we are for many of them still the beacon — still the model they hope to achieve for themselves, perhaps in new forms and structures that work better for them. They look to the USA not as a perfect country, but for the simple fact that so far it’s still working.
We, too, have passionate voices crying out for things that are diametrically opposed and seemingly irreconcilable. But we manage to make it work anyway despite the polarity and the turmoil it takes to come to resolution about difficult matters. Let’s hope that we can, in our maturity, model new ways of living and working and playing that ultimately make the planet a healthy and stable place to be for all of us who live here. And let’s hope, too, that all the other countries of the world find that inspiring enough to risk the changes it takes to get there safely in their own ways.