The 4th of July Should Be About More than Fireworks

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Once again Independence Day is upon us, a time for celebrating the Continental Congress officially declaring that the 13 Colonies were an independent nation.

It's a time for barbecues, fireworks and all things red, white and blue.

I’m all for a good plate of ribs, or corn on the cob and I love a good peach cobbler but also, as I get older, I notice that the ideals of what we claim this country were built on seem to be disintegrating.

It seems that the more patriotic the individual the greater the apathy for what actually made this country great - the ability to evolve, change and become malleable to the greater good.

I'm not sure when celebrating our country turned into "we are better than you" but it’s a little disturbing.

More and more I see the “Love it or Leave it” crowd vociferously staking their claim on days like Independence Day. It seems to be a yearly opportunity for them to affirm that we've reached some plateau of perfection. What made and what can make America great is a willingness to address and admit that we have issues to overcome and that we are open and ready to learn and change.

That’s not to say that we haven’t come a long way, it’s not to say that there isn’t greatness in our America but with greatness comes the responsibility to the ideals that we were founded upon.

I grew up learning about a country that was made great by acknowledging that our ideals are there to strive for and that reaching them in totality is a constant and continual quest.

Celebrating the 4th of July does not mean we should be complacent but that we understand that this country has a rich history of both good and bad.

We have been a part of some of the greatest social change and growth the world has even seen but also have been part and parcel to some of the cruelest and shameful events in history. There are signs that we have a long way to go and there are signs that we have made great progress. The voices of change have to continue to poke and prod at the status quo for this country to be great.

We have to continually address the problems of the poor, the problems of racism, classism, the issues of a nation that is only great when it can see beyond the fireworks and political demagoguery and are accountable for the things we do wrong as much as the things we’ve done right.