Today, the Fourth of July, I contemplate this country in which we live. I have not been, nor am I now, a blind patriot. I will never believe “my country, right or wrong.” Blind patriotism is as dangerous as treason and perhaps more so. That having been said, I cannot help but feel pride in this country of ours. We have done so much right; so much good has emerged from and through this country.
Our founders created the model for modern-day democracy, a model that remains a beacon today for oppressed people around the world. We have confronted and overcome fascists and madmen who, had they been allowed to succeed in their efforts at world domination, would have crippled humankind in unfathomable ways. We have managed to create an infrastructure which delivers clean, safe drinking water to almost every person in the United States. We have the wherewithal to travel from coast to coast and border to border, comfortably and safely if we are careful and attentive. Our education system has helped make us a literate people. Most of us have at least our basic necessities met and many of us have the opportunity to rise above our financial stations. We have public parks, libraries, and museums.
Our military is among the best trained, best equipped, and most stable in the world. Our police forces in most communities truly serve and protect. This country has spawned a huge number of remarkably talents artists, writers, and actors who help spread the story of this great land far and wide.
Most of us can feel safe in our homes and in our neighborhoods. We can feel safe in our country.
There is so very, very much to be proud of and to celebrate about the United States of America. And I do. I really do.
But the wonder and beauty and good that describes us as a nation must never allow us to be blind to the things we have yet to do or the things we must fix to enable us to continue to be a shining example to the rest of the world. If we allow the ugly blemishes on our national conscience to go untreated and if we permit our pride in what we have done for humanity overtake what we have done and are doing to humanity, all of the good that has come before will be for naught. The people of a strong nation do not need to, and should not, blindly claim that the nation’s every action is right. Instead, they should celebrate the good and dedicate themselves to eliminating the bad.
Our rightful and legitimate pride in all we have done as a nation must not blind us to the tragic mistakes we have made and are making. For example, we should not abuse our well-trained and well-equipped and loyal military by deploying them in immoral wars; we should not use the men and women of our military as pawns in political games. We should not allow our pride in our law enforcement agencies to enable us to overlook abuses of power. We should not allow our self-described morality to balloon into a belief that there is only one way to see the world.
For all the good this country has done and is doing, there is an enormous dark side that merits our attention and our resources to overturn. We cannot allow a powerful democracy to morph into the kind of fascist state our sons and daughters have fought and died to defend against.
Freedom. That’s the concept upon which this country was founded and upon which this country was built. We owe it to ourselves and the world to demand of ourselves the utmost in loyalty to that foundation. Celebrate the good, acknowledge and overcome the bad.