On This Birthday Let’s Fill In The Gap

Happy 4th of July everyone, Happy Independence Day. This is one holiday we all celebrate with gusto. We watch fireworks, eat that all American food, the hotdog, and acknowledge all we are so fortunate to receive just because we are Americans. Today we celebrate another birthday, another year in the long and proud history of America. One of the things I always felt about birthdays is that they provide an opportunity to evaluate the past year, and determine how we want to make the next year better. What are the things that we can do to help move America a little closer to the ideals that we sing about and talk about as we are growing up in school? What can we do to close that seemingly ever-growing gap between the dream and the reality?

It seems that a first step would be to do away with bigotry. You know, the irrational hatred and distrust of those who are not like us. After all, the ideal is “freedom and equality for all”. Yet we see many laws either in progress or already passed in the states the belie that dream. Infringement of voting rights, women’s access to healthcare, laws against gay marriage and unequal access to quality education are perfect examples of where the gap between the ideal and the reality exists. Unfortunately, this gap exists because people have an irrational fear and dislike of others.

Next, I believe we need to deal with xenophobia. This is related to bigotry, but it takes on a broader perspective in that it is the irrational dislike and mistrust of people from other countries or cultures. It tends to cause us to use broad strokes to categorize and describe people in negative ways. Being mistrustful of all Muslims fits well into this category. Of course xenophobia can lead to such historic favorites as antisemitism and other golden oldies. If we are a proud pluralistic society, we have to be willing to be more open to other societies and welcome them with a new and improved immigration policy.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 26th week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We need to be a better model of the use of power. Our Forefathers warned against “foreign entanglements”. Basically they were saying that we should keep our nose out of other national interests. They felt strongly that unless our national security or economic interests are threatened, we need to keep ourselves out of other country’s issues. Now it is true that the world is more complex than it was and that America has a role to play as the superpower and leader. But we need to learn how to balance our interests against some who believe we are obligated to ride into every fray on a white horse and save the day. Our first obligation is to the security and welfare of America.

Our congressmen and senators need to learn that they are there to represent our interests and not their own personal ambitions. As a nation we have to acknowledge that our current form of government is not working because of the inadequacies of those we have elected and their inability to place our needs above their own. As citizens we have an obligation to let them know how we feel and get rid of them if they don’t start to do their jobs. That starts by taking the time and making the effort to be informed and vote. They depend on the fact that we believe everything they say and won’t make an effort to replace them. In 2014 let’s surprise them.

Finally, we have all been through a rough few years. Sometimes adversity brings out the best in us. However, I believe that this time it has brought out the worst in us. As a people we have been looking inward and just trying to hold on to what we have. I understand that. But it has made us more fearful of the future and less likely to take the risks that have made this country great. We have to take a deep breath and look beyond ourselves and find ways to work together to regain the energy and vision that has brought us so far. We can’t allow those around us with little minds who preach fear to control our future. On this American birthday we need to act our age and understand our obligation to work together to be the best we can be.



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