4th of July: Independence for All, Not Only Some

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As the 4th of July nears, here is a thought to ponder:

If you do not support equal rights and opportunities for everyone—even those who are vastly different from yourself, you’ve completely missed the point about what it really means to be American.

The United States is not homogenous, albeit some hate mongers would have it that way.  The US is made up of many ethnicities and cultures—so many I can’t list them all here. We are one country made up of every nationality, culture, and ethnicity under the sun, yet we are not a “melting pot’. That term was never correct.

Cultures did not necessarily melt together to become one here. Instead, we live side by side, complementing each other. That’s something special. It’s something to be proud of, really, that so many different people can live peacefully together to form a nation, not just a country. Unfortunately, some would like to keep us from having this wonderful community of people.

There are those who would block equal rights and opportunity, promote hate with archaic, unnecessary symbols, and deny religious freedoms. There are those who only protect the rights of those who fit their own molds. That, folks, isn’t “American”.  It can’t be. Because while the colonies were originally formed to break away from England, specifically the Church of England, and to form a Puritan society, that endeavor was short lived. New people came to the colonies. We expanded and moved beyond Puritanical life. We are not those people who came here, appropriated land, and massacred millions of innocent people in order to have a “pure” society. That is not us, or at least I hope not.

I would like to think we have evolved into people who can recognize the value of people different from ourselves. In 2015, we should be able to see that our own beliefs do not trump those convictions of others; they’re certainly different at times, but not “better”. We should recognize by now that there are many paths in life, not just one, and we can celebrate the cultural practices of all who live here. We can also support people who look different, have different lifestyles from ourselves, who carry different religious convictions, or who identify sexually in a way we do not. We should be able to do these things, but we don’t.

We don’t because we’re still too preoccupied with creating enemies—“the others”. We still believe it is our job to “save souls” in some invented theocracy we have never been.  We still haven’t let go of the past enough to move forward.

If we don’t want to keep repeating the past—a past filled with hatred and atrocity, then we have to recognize our need to progress. We must not remain those people set out to make our society “pure”. No society is pure. Ours, made up from so many different people, surely is not. When we admit our faults, confess the atrocities of the past, celebrate our diversity, and give everyone the independence–the autonomy and freedom— we claim to represent,  then and only then will we be what we often mistakenly call ourselves: a Nation.

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