Happy Independence Day!
Today, like all days, is a great day to think about your country.
There is such a wide range of thought and emotion feelings about our America, especially lately.
How do we celebrate and love a country that we are blessed to live in, but has also let us down many times?
America, and its history are complicated.
I see and hear many people focusing on the terrible and regrettable events in our past: slavery, genocide, child labor, discrimination against the LGBTQ community, Japanese American internment camps, sexism, bigotry, provoking war, stealing land, etc.
It is true, they all happened, and they are all shameful.
However, it is also important to understand the many good things that America has done for itself and the world.
Our ideals of democracy, opportunity, freedom, equality, rule of law, etc. were almost entirely new to the human race. We represented a new way of thinking about how government and life were supposed to work. These ideals and principles also set an example followed by many other countries hoping to do the same.
With our allies, we defeated the Nazis and the imperial Japanese. We have protected much of the world from the evils of communism and terrorism. We have also rebuilt nations ravaged by war and disaster.
Please don’t underestimate the value of this for ourselves and many others.
We have led the way in universal education and stood up for human rights. We have fed the hungry, helped and healed all over the world.
We have been leaders in innovation, technology, science, and the arts.
We have been a shelter from the storm as well as a place of refuge and new opportunity for many millions fleeing war, famine, and oppression.
You don’t have to think America is perfect to love, appreciate, and celebrate it. It is not perfect, but it is not a failure either.
Once again, please think about our country. There is room in those thoughts for both pride and the demand that we do better.
Also, please understand that the most important chapters in American history are the ones yet to be written, and together we will be their authors.
The most important word in the Declaration of Independence is the first one: We.
Have a great Fourth of July, and commit to doing the hard work to making each coming one better.
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