Welcome to the 4th of July, the birthday of our independence, 2012-style.
America is 236 if my math is correct.
That is something to celebrate, considering this grand experiment in democracy has flourished under one flag, growing from 3 million people to over 300 million.
America was merely an ideal, a theory, that some freedom fighters and framers of our Constitution aspired to achieve, and to their credit here we stand 236 years later.
The road from July 4, 1776 to today has included many highlights, including great industrial triumphs, ground breaking advancements in science and technology, and successfully legislating our diverse population across 50 states.
That road has been fraught with peril as well. The underlying common denominator for America is conflict. We were born of violence and it remains inexplicably intertwined with the DNA of our people.
From the American Revolution in 1775 through the ongoing war in Afghanistan, America has never gone longer than 33-years without being involved in some conflict.
And the incidents have progressively become more frequent, with only a few years separating them at best, to the point where they piggyback upon one another, or now, with the War on Terror, the combat is endless.
Racial violence, domestic violence, street violence, drug violence, prison violence, child abuse, sex trafficking…It’s all around us all the time, often hidden in plain sight.
Those are the obvious examples. Then there is poverty, unemployment, homelessness and denial of health care that certainly perpetrate violence upon those who are victims of these ills.
I can’t help but think of conflict on this 4th of July, because those social and economic issues are no longer far from any of our doors.
The acrimonious tone surrounding debate over immigration and health care reform is spilling over into hate, and that is becoming ever more palpable throughout the electorate as questions abound as to whether the “American Dream” no longer exists.
People are trying to hold on to the promise of a better tomorrow, but it’s hard out there, and that creates frustration, fear and anger, which is fueling our politics.
This time around there is no foreign war to use as an outlet, nor any foreign power to blame for what ails America. We did this to ourself.
I remain optimistic this downturn can be reversed.
America is the most diverse, innovative and independent country in the world. Anything is possible here.
It just takes people waking up and dialing back into what is really important.
Like any addict, first we have to acknowledge we have a problem – only then can steps be taken to truly recovery.