“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” - Ronald Reagan
As a kid, 4th of July was my favorite holiday next to Christmas. Staying in my bathing suit all day, feet burning on hot pavement, and popsicles and fireworks in the street are among my favorite childhood memories. This holiday weekend though, what is heavy on my mind is how different what I learned about America was from what my kids learn. Last weekend a sweet 15 year old girl asked the question “Why is it a big deal when people take a knee during the national anthem?” and I was grateful to be the one who got to answer her. What she heard from me about the sacrifice made by men and women of past generations under that flag for our freedom definitely wouldn’t be the answer she’ll get at school. Everywhere we look, the message that we have nothing to be proud of as Americans is being spread loudly to the next generation. Yesterday I saw the headline that a woman member of the Contra Costa school board called for a boycott of the 4th of July because there is nothing to celebrate about America. Just the fact that criticism gets a headline shows what there is to celebrate, but all points of view don't share that same freedom these days.
What the next generation believes about America becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. This country is only as great as the people who have the energy to get up and make it happen and as that torch is passed to them, the current narrative will never give them the energy or belief that has been the bedrock of our country in generations past.
Today there is a great divide between real people and power and it's easy to get discouraged. I only let the news in enough to be informed instead of inflamed. The reality of the headlines and everyday life for regular people, from gas prices, bare store shelves and ridiculous arguments about whether a man can get pregnant are exhausting for everyone and we have to choose where we expend our energy.
American life comes with personal responsibility and a hopefully hefty dose of self reflection. When we know this, we have the power to change things from a conscious mind and heart rather than what we see today that more and more looks like a giant trauma bond. So often what we criticize is what we fear most about ourselves. We will never empower from a place of lack, and yet that place of lack and unworthiness is the loudest story out there. Greatness comes with the ability to stand on our own feet, and the ability to recognize where we need to adapt and change to BE BETTER, then we can ask for the support we need to do that. The state of our country can’t be greater than the state of our homes, or our own hearts, minds and spirits. So many of the root problems in America could be solved with introspection instead of outrage. Maybe then we could consciously and calmly connect to talk about the differences between us.
Last night my friend Chrissy and I sat on the beach, watching her boys play in the water until the moon rose in the sky. You could barely see it shining, it was only 2% illuminated according to Google, but it was there and it was beautiful. Our shine is still there if you look for it, I see it everyday. If we don’t teach them to look for the shine, they will never discover how to create it for themselves. What we focus on grows, and in so many places we are focused on the wrong things. Look for that sliver of light this weekend, and be one who coaxes it along until it shines brightly again. See the light, be the light, and let the connection come from there.
Happy 246th birthday America. I believe in you.
With love and optimism,