Acknowledging a diverse America is an excellent first step towards remembering what deserves to be celebrated on this day.
It seems I was born without the nationalism gene, and correspondingly, Fourth of July has always been a holiday of ambivalent feelings for me.
After my experience volunteering in a refugee camp in Summer 2016, when I had the opportunity to connect with so many families whose lives had become ‘collateral damage’ in America’s endless war machine, I returned to a country in the throes of electing Donald Trump to the presidency.
It was enough of a struggle to reintegrate into a culture addicted to their big vehicles and big shopping carts full of junk, knowing first-hand the price other human hearts have paid in exchange for the luxuries Americans feel entitled to… but even worse, the in-your-face arrogance and willful amnesia of our political culture has been literally insufferable.
I could go on at length about that, but the point of this post is actually NOT to complain or take shots.
As an opportunity for spiritual growth, I am focusing my intention on practicing ‘unlikely gratitude’ –
It’s easy-as-pie to witness the world with gratitude when everything looks the way we think it ‘should’ be, when everything is pleasant and easy and ‘going our way’.
It’s far more challenging to practice gratitude when the walls are coming down, but that’s exactly the time when it’s needed the most. The antidote to constriction is generosity.
I’m not gonna lie, given what my eyes have been open to for the last two years, I had to dig in deep today to find something about America to be sincerely grateful for.
But then I realized, America is more than the sum total of the bad things our majority culture has done, because America IS more than its majority culture – and overlooking that point is the same thing as silencing the many vibrant, persevering communities who call this land home.
As much as the architects of majority culture would love to control the narrative and silence everything but their own voice, I am not going to let them narrowly define who we are, what our history has been and what the future will be.
A diverse America is a strong America – so let’s all take a minute and appreciate what IS truly great about this land:
–> the communities of color who have overcome unspeakable violence and hardships with determination and grace
–> the queer communities who have loved courageously and forged new pathways of identity
–> one wave after another of feminists who are tearing down the patriarchy brick by brick (we’re unstoppable!)
–> the artists, intellectuals and political dissidents who have fought back the wilderness of the mind and pushed the boundaries of human development
–> immigrants and refugees who continue to invest their hope and entrust their future to a country whose ‘dream’ most native-born people have given up believing in
America, I see you, and I believe in your better angels.
Instead of using this day to celebrate ‘independence’ (whatever that means) – why don’t we declare this a day for celebrating the one thing that can truly save us, recognizing our interdependence?