Last night, my husband took the kids outside to surprise them with a bit of pre-4th illumination. Shortly thereafter, my son (11) marched inside to declare our box of sparklers, “duds.” Evidently, each time they put flame to rod, the metal sparked and sputtered and fizzled out. He shuffled back outside muttering about “bad quality” and how, “they don’t make things like they used to.” Eleven going on seventy-six.
After he closed the door, I pondered the symbolism – and potential foreshadowing – of his experience.
So much contention, malcontent and divisiveness exists in U.S. culture today. As a nation, do we sometimes get it wrong? Absolutely. But I’m not sure that responding in anger, rants and violence is the answer.
As founders, did our forefathers sometimes get it wrong? Sure. But I would argue that the difference is that, as a group, they focused on the solutions, not the problems. I’d also argue that if they spent as much time dwelling on the problems back then as we do today, then we’d all be subjects of the Queen.
That we got things wrong back then and get things wrong today speaks not to our differences, but to the very thing that unites us: our humanity. We will never get it right all the time, but if we dwell on the ways in which they got it wrong back then, or the ways in which we disagree today, we will never get it right.
So today, as we turn our collective focus to Independence Day and our freedom fighters and founders, let’s lower our ideological swords and seek out and build on that which unites us.
Lest our sparklers go out.
Photo via Visual Hunt