Today we in the United States celebrate our nation’s independence. This means that today my social media feeds will be littered with American flags, the pledge of allegiance, and notes about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What I woke up thinking about is, what are we celebrating today? For me, the celebration is of the audacious ideals laid down on this country’s founding documents. Phrases like,”life, lovey, and the pursuit of happiness”, ‘liberty and Justice for all”, “in order to form a more perfect union” resonate in my head. These are wonderful ideals and I am glad and thankful to love in a country which claims them.
However, sometimes I find the zealous displays patriotism I see on TV and social media disheartening. It is hard for me to share that excitement because I look around and see where those ideals are disregarded. I see people denied rights we call”inalienable”, I see justice withheld, and I see people unconcerned with unity. As John Wilsey says in American Exceptionalism being concerned that America is not living up to the established ideals and being willing to call ourselves to change is true patriotism. I think most people willingly do this on one or to issues. We stand up for the loves of these Innocents or against injustice done that group. But I will see one major flaw that most overlook; we fail to try to form, “a more perfect union.”
This country is often referred to as a melting pot, where various people from various cultures come together as one nation. The trouble is I don’t see much melting. I don’t see people blending together to form a culture committed to, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. I see people committed to justice for me and mine, life for those like me. Instead of listening to one anther we threaten to dissolve the great experiment carried out on this continent. I think the cost of listening, of melting together, is simply too high for many people. The cost is “self”. To be committed to ideals of this nation’s founding is to be self-restricting. My liberty can only extend to the border of my neighbor. Being united to others means I cannot dominate others. This domination is the root cause of injustice.
America has never lived up to its ideals. From handing out blankets with smallpox to natives, to slavery, to racist immigration policies, to wars started on the flimsiest pretexts. We have failed, and I accept that; but what is difficult is how unconcerned we are with the root causes of this failure. How we refuse to blend with one another. Our founders recognized inherent cultural differences in this nation’s subcultures. Elements of government such as the Electoral College were established because of these distinctions. Though we recognize these distinctions in subcultures we immediately dismiss people from a different subculture as backward, ignorant, stupid, biased, uninformed, or worst of all something ending in “ist”. If America is going to live up to the ideals established 243 years ago we must work on becoming united. We cannot solve the problems of our nation if we do not listen and respect others as they speak.