culture / Summer 2018 / Walter Hill

On the 4th of July

Written by Walter Hill

I do not feel patriotic today. It’s hard to feel pride in a country that as a black guy would prefer you to silently and “gratefully” play sports instead of have a political opinion. I struggle to endorse our forever Wars after learning of the failures of Vietnam. On the other hand, I benefit from this country in a way that means I am linked to it. Both of my parents work in or adjacent to the government. I’ve worked two federal jobs that have shaped me as a person. I’m an American and a lover of history. That means I carry America with me; America’s triumphs and her sins.

I’m not sure where I fall on the scales of joy and anger this 4th of July but I do know that I have a responsibility to help make this country better for its citizens and for the world’s sake. I don’t want to ignore our failures and I cannot fawn over our success. I certainly have some of that American pride. And I also have plenty of American shame.

The 4th should be a complex conversation. Not a hazy rave. Not a burning. We should take inventory of our ideals and our laws and how they align. And where we come up short we double down and work harder.  To vote, protest, learn, and inform.

If America is to continue its “Great Experiment” then we must constantly seek to question ourselves. This notion of the 4th, as a time to grapple is not as easy or comfortable as watching the game and drinking a beer. It is not as simple as cursing America. But it is essential in our progress toward liberty and justice for all.

If you feel angry today, search for the gaps where that anger can be turned into civic action. If the 4th brings you chest swelling joy then make doubly sure to listen to those who feel otherwise.

And above all else, do not tune out on that 4th day in July. Our country’s future depends on you.

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