This past two weeks my family was fortunate to safely travel from Chicago to our home in a car where we saw a gamut of things that really inspired songs like “This Land is Your Land,” by Woodie Guthrie. I definitely felt the wonder and the awe appropriate to seeing Lake Michigan, Bison in their natural habitat, the Badlands, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the sweeping fields of Iowa and even the Harley Davidson museum. Now, it’s the 4th of July. And many of us are questioning whose country it is, and whether it’s great and might even consider those wearing a surfeit of red white and blue to be mistaken …
As a very grateful American and Californian, I have to reflect on why this is, and what it means. My personal citizenship was downgraded last month and I find myself without uniform access to human rights throughout this great nation. I am horrified by the events of January 6, 2020 that are being illuminated by the hearings underway. I am shocked by how far apart some people are from my perspective. And yet, throughout our trip, I encountered so many nice people, whose values are at least some proportion the same as mine, who must have voted for Trump and some of whom might have supported the two travesties I mention above. They are American and so am I. Many of them have appropriated our flag and the name “American,” to reflect only their point of view and I resent that.
A client I talked to this week had a perspective – a nation is made of people, and the vast majority of people and their beliefs and actions are what determine what it’s flag stands for. There is the tendency for the right to appropriate the symbols of a country. That is all that has happened here. Our flag and the name American stands for all of us, and it is my view that we are not only allowed, but need to carry these symbols proudly and to re-affirm our right to control the country and guide it in the correct direction. The direction the majority of us want it to go. Many people think there is little they can do. But there are things you can do every day to make this country better and to move it in the direction you want it to go. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, for starters! Start politely telling people what you care about, instead of shying away from it as socially scary. We stay too much in our own lane. I encourage you to be an American this weekend: be kind and accepting of others who are different from you and welcome them to this great melting pot; share what you have; be proud of our national lands and be ready to spend money to steward them; to others, put them before yourself; and be grateful for all that you have the all the freedom you have to choose who you are and where you live. Where you live matters and I’m grateful it’s here in the great state of California in the United States of America. Don’t be afraid to wear your best red white and blue T-shirt and wave your flag.
Happy 4th you all!