Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Singing an American Tune

Technically and there’s not a calendar on this continent that could prove me wrong, we are on the last Wednesday of June in 2016. No more and certainly no less. Except, and I saw your eyes dart to the right counting the days on the calendar, we are just about to begin another three-day holiday weekend, in this case, Independence Day celebrated this year on Monday. 

Some of this will sound familiar because I’ve said it before but that will not keep me from saying it again. 

On this Fourth of July should we be pleased with ourselves and proud of our nation? Of course, but somewhere between the backyard barbecue and that softball game that no one keeps score in and that only ends when it’s too dark to see, we might look in a mirror and then look around at the country we received from our parents and their parents and which we hope to give to our children and theirs.

In the midst of celebration, perhaps we can find a moment of contemplation.

Enumerating what it called our ‘unalienable rights’ to include ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ the founders of our republic, who did not agree on very much except that the present state of affairs such as they were in 1776 could not continue, concluded the only way forward as a people on this largely unexplored, new continent whose size and wealth were not yet known, was to break with the past and declare independence from King and Crown.

And 240 years on, look at us. Out of all of that has come all of this. And along the way, the original magic and meaning have been muffled by backyard pool parties, holiday car sales and chicken fried steaks on the barbecue.

Our politics is spirited even if our interest isn't and our understanding of the issues is muddled and muted. And, again, it’s not that we all agree with who we are and what we are doing. It’s been reported we haven’t been this divided morally, politically and socially as a country since the Civil War. And that should mean far more than it does.

Some say never have so many had so much of life’s material rewards but others say never have so many struggled to hold on to what they have. And there’s a lot to be said on both sides of that argument and there’s also a lot to be heard and we’re not very good anymore at listening to one another.

What may be missing is our national sense of self, our confidence and belief in our own abilities to forever adapt and triumph. We had those traits at the Founding and I would hope each in our own way we might again find them, both for those whose inheritance we are and for those whose promise is yet to be. Happy the 4th of July. May the 5th and all the days that remain be even more so.
-bill kenny