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I'm Proud to Be an American
For Independence Day, let's set aside all that's happened for a moment and just celebrate America.
Over the last half-decade, it has become more and more painful this time of year when patriotic songs are played. The words prick my heart, for they are increasingly disconnected from the prevailing spirit in our country.
It feels as if we are under an almost constant onslaught of discontent from multiple directions of the political compass. These days, we are beset both by angry factions who feel the country we once had is lost and others that say good riddance in their march towards their view of a better society.
Rarely do we find anyone willing to cling to optimism for the present. As a recent Gallup poll demonstrates, a growing number of Americans are no longer proud to be Americans. Whether that’s because people think we’ve lost something along the way or that we never were something to be proud of in the first place, the result is the same. We are wallowing in cynicism and self-pity that is dangerously approaching civic nihilism.
And I would be lying if I didn’t admit to my own sense of gloom. Both January 6th and the surrender of Afghanistan stand out as inflection points in my own personal struggle to maintain a sense of optimism for the present and near future. There are days when my love for political theory and the history of the American experiment in free government feel like feckless pursuits. I’m often overwhelmed by the march of events and the inflexibility of fearful political narratives. Sometimes, I just want to walk away and let the world burn itself down.
But we can’t give up hope. We can’t surrender to the desire to disengage. And we can’t let present anxieties force us to forget the legacy of our great country or lead us to take our eyes off the dreams of tomorrow. And we especially can’t allow our gaze to become so narrowly focused on the bad tidings of a season of discontent that we fail to cultivate gratitude for the multitude of blessings that come from the free republic we still possess.
So, on this Independence Day, let’s set aside all our fears, anxieties, and misgivings. Lean into the pageantry, embrace the revelry, and wave the American flag with reckless abandon. Hug your loved ones, shout “Happy 4th of July!” to a complete stranger, and cheer along with the crowds at parades, rodeos, and concerts. Even if only for a day, let’s forget everything that’s happened and say in one voice, “I’m proud to be an American!”