Of all the national holidays for my country, Independence Day is the one I can actually get behind. It’s not that I’m unpatriotic–far from it. I love my country, even with all it’s many (MANY) flaws. But I don’t like a lot of the things that come to mind when you think of America–where women’s uteruses are more legislated than our firearms, and when you ask “did you hear about that school shooting the other day?” most people have to respond with “which one?”, and where money buys legislative votes, the people’s opinions are not represented in politics, and medical developments are fueled by profit instead of humanitarianism. There’s quite a bit about the state of things right now that I don’t like, but I have a lot of faith in humanity, and a lot of hope for my country to get things right, ultimately.
Independence Day is a great holiday because it reminds me of the roots of this country. It reminds me of how badass we used to be, throwing tea into the ocean like a punk rock riot, flipping off the crown (or biting our thumbs at the crown?) and pulling a Sarah-from-Labyrinth like “I HAVE FOUGHT MY WAY HERE TO THE
CASTLE COLONY BEYOND THE GOBLIN CITY ATLANTIC OCEAN–ETC…um…YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!” I mean, look at the Declaration of Independence. Those old dudes got it. And it’s proof that there was a time in history when the people who would become the United States of America were forward-thinking, socially progressive, freedom-loving, genuine human beings.
Were they perfect? Hell no. But the things they stood for were important enough and real enough that, over time, adhering to those values forced ye olde white men to bring about real, lasting, important change. Sure, sometimes those values seem to get lost in the mess up on Capitol Hill, but look: we weren’t perfect then, and we’re not perfect now. But we’re always moving forward–even when some SCOTUS rulings make us seriously doubt that forward momentum.
For better or for worse, the USA is a country that has been crafted to expect and implement change. And what that means is that this country will never become static. Improvement is always possible, and in the longterm history of things, it’s actually highly likely. We may not be where we want to be today, but we’re a hell of a lot closer than we were even twenty years ago.
So I think about that, on the 4th of July, watching fireworks displays and eating hotdogs and listening to the often misinterpreted lyrics of “Born in the USA” blasting from my neighbor’s window. I think about that every time some startlingly awful decision is made by any of the three branches of our government. I think about that every time another state rules in favor of marriage equality.
Sometimes things are bad–but the foundation of this country leads me to believe that they can and will always, eventually, get better.