I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be American lately. What it means to live in a nation founded on the idea and ideals of freedom (in principle if not practice all those centuries ago), of individual autonomy, on the idea that our voices as citizens have a right to be heard.

I haven't written much in this space about politics, not directly, anyway, though I do write about my belief in the values of compassion, love, community, and equality and I think much can be read into that. I don't want to engage in political battles here and so I will keep this simple. 

I'm concerned.

I'm deeply concerned. 

I'm concerned that our citizenry has set aside its civil duty to understand our political system and its responsibility to educate itself on policy-making. That it instead would prefer to scapegoat "politicians" (that they elected, by active choice or by their decision not to show up at election time) or minorities or immigrants for what they feel isn't working for them on a personal level.

I'm concerned that our citizenry has forgotten that we erected a statue in New York Harbor that is inscribed with words that engender one of the most beautiful ideas in human history:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I'm concerned that our citizenry has forgotten that most of us are descended from immigrants who came to this nation under a variety of circumstances, ranging from the seeking of freedom from religious persecution, to the seeking of increased social mobility,  to flight from famine or oppression, to indentured servitude, to slavery. The vast majority of us are, indeed, not native to this continent (though it is possible to argue that those "immigrants" from Latin America have a closer ancestral tie this country than most "Americans") but are descended from people who came from other parts of the world. 

Mostly, I'm concerned that our citizenry has forgotten that what makes America great is not its military might or a booming economy, but the principles of freedom and equality that it was founded on and has strived decade after decade to move closer to achieving. 

This Independence Day, I implore all of us to truly think independently about what we want for our nation's future. There are storm clouds brewing and inflammatory language and chest-beating is being used in all of the ways it's been used throughout history to move the masses toward pain and suffering. So choose carefully...what do you want for yourselves and your children?  Fear or love? Division or community? Violence or compassion?

{I am not willing to engage in a comment fight, so please note that ugly, rude, or hurtful comments are not welcome and will be deleted. I welcome views other than my own, but only when expressed with courtesy and respect.}