One of the unfortunate responsibilities I’ve tasked myself with as an adult is following the news. This has lead to sleepless night, listless days, and an overwhelming feeling of dread when I imagine the world I’m leaving to my children. Luckily, I live in the time of the 24 news cycle! If you pay attention, living as any nationality seems to be a difficult order. Every nation struggles with corruption, dishonest leaders, and a lack of compassion for the less fortunate. As an American I’ve had to read about NSA wiretaps, drone strikes, and politicians abusing power and privilege. To use the parlance of our time: It fucking sucks, bro.
Today is the 4th of July and my wife dragged me to an Independence Day parade with our small children; don’t worry this’ll tie in to that depressing first paragraph, so hang in there. As I stood in the crowd of fellow Americans dressed like goof-balls, we watched organizations from seemingly bygone times like the Rotary Club and the Shriners march down suburban streets. The recognition shared showed me that these were friends watching, and friends marching. I was struck by the question: why bother? Why get up, find parking and stand in the summer sun to watch your neighbor, whom you probably see every day(!), walk down the street with a silly hat on?!
Earlier in the week I was listening to NPR (#humblebrag #Imsosmart) and an Iraqi ex-patriot was interviewed regarding the invasion of ISIS and its execution of Shias. The interviewer posed the question: what would it take for the different religions to live together in peace in this new Iraq? He answered: “Tolerance. In America no matter what religion you are we all pray to the same God, whether you believe in him or not. That is what makes America a great nation.” I wish I could meet this man and shake his hand, because he gave me what years of watching the news has ground down: hope. Hope that one day we’ll all have a greater tolerance for one another, and things like drone strikes and wiretapping will be unnecessary. It’s why we gather together peacefully one day a year and watch our neighbors walk down the street in silly hats.
Even with all of your flaws I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Happy Birthday America!