As a state and nation, our focus this weekend has appropriately been on July 4th, the anniversary of the day that our founding fathers signed off on the world-changing Declaration of Independence. I would like to offer that July 5th should be just as significant because that is the day that the work really got started.
As your July 5th draws to a close, I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on the work that we need to accomplish together, starting with a reset on our shared perspective.
No one can be blamed for taking a dim view of the current state of things in our country, what with ongoing social strife and a pandemic that has battered our economy and our sense of security. However, a review of history shows that our country has encountered similarly dire circumstances in the past.
If you think our nation is a little fractured now, imagine the opinions, emotions and beliefs that clashed in Independence Hall as the conversation between 13 colonies over the ratification of the Declaration advanced.
In spite of the strife, they still managed to lay the foundation for a democracy that has had no equal in the history of the world.
Our Founders possessed a valid and healthy fear of failure but also gathered with a proud willingness to compromise and find their way towards a unified outcome.
As their vision unfolded over the following centuries, through times of war and internal discord, these values proved their worth through countless trials and growing pains.
As our Founders’ vision unfolded, America blossomed into a nation with no peer, but not without faults. However, as we have hewn to those essential values and the belief in the inherent worth of every individual, created equal in the eyes of God, our nation has persevered and improved.
Knowing that our nation is at its best when it reflects the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence, I was especially annoyed by the negative voices of the cancel culture saying that Independence Day should not be celebrated because, in their myopic, misinformed view, now is not a time to be proud of our country.
They could not be more tragically wrong.
When you take pride in something — your marriage, a classic car, or a fixer-upper home — you are willing to work on it, in the never ending search for improvement. no matter the next step, whether it’s a date night, a bigger engine or a fresh coat of paint, you do what it takes to make it better.
To me, July 5th is a reminder that we all have work to do as Americans. We have to listen to each other with intent. We have to vote with our conscience. We need to wear masks to protect each other from a virus that is threatening us all. We have to hold our leaders at the city, county, state and federal levels accountable for the way they spend our tax dollars.
Fortunately, history tells us that those efforts are rewarded with progress. Even in the midst of social upheaval, economic struggle and a deadly virus lurking at the door, I choose to look to the future in a spirit of optimism. I know that I, as an individual citizen, can take simple and deliberate steps to continue improving our republic. Let’s continue taking those steps together.