Cynicism on the 4th of July

This is a departure from International travel musings… but since it’s 4th of July – Independence Day in the US – and a gloomy, muggy one at that, I was thinking about what this day means to me. I’m conflicted.

I’ve stayed in the US my entire life. I’ve lived in the Northeast, but travelled through much of this country… the deserts and mountains, scrub prairie and wine country; national parks and those “only in America” bizarro attractions like the Corn Palace and Wall Drug, South of the Border and giant roadside animal statues… (though somehow I’ve missed the Pacific Northwest) (an aside: read my thoughts on “where we stay“)

I am a citizen of a country founded by immigrants, whose “personality” has evolved to something like arrogance towards (and foisted upon) the rest of the world. Of that I’m a little embarrassed. Though I am grateful to live in a place where, on any given day, I can walk freely down the street dressed for the weather. I live in a land where I have the opportunity to learn. The permission to drive. The freedom to practice yoga, connect with friends on Facebook and vote (!), without interference from my government. I have clean water, plentiful food, access to hospitals (despite the drama around our healthcare system) and a safe place to sleep at night. These are all things of first-world privilege.

But what if it weren’t “one nation under god”? What if it were one nation, under an amazing, awe-inspiring, interconnected and interdependent universe… would that enable people to see things around us (and interact with others) in a different light? Would it curtail domestic terrorism? Would haters still hate?

Humans invented this concept of god thousands of years ago to make some semblance of the universal goings-on around them. They foraged, feuded and, likely, fornicated their way to modern civilisation. Multiple nations, under an all-encompassing universe.

Fast-forward two or five thousand years, and we’ve divided, conquered and multiplied… We ventured east, north, south and eventually discovered the west. So here we are, living now in one nation, under a domineering right-wing Christian political influence, fairly divisible (depending, potentially, on who’s getting paid to speak loudest), with some semblance of liberty (unless you tread too far to the right or left) and a birthright expectation of justice for all.

Happy 4th of July from a semi-cynical, grateful (but not necessarily always proud to be) American.