On this Fourth of July, two quotes come to mind about our America.
One is by Abraham Lincoln.
The other sits in my home.
The first: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
This quote, by Lincoln, was part of a speech he gave after he accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as U.S. senator. It addressed the division in the country around slavery.
The other quote is on decorative paper, framed at the top of my stairs: “Our Family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.”
After researching the quote, I still do not know who wrote it – but, from what I've seen, it appears on many inspirational products.
So, what do these two quotes have to do with the Fourth of July?
This Fourth of July, specifically?
Well, you would have to have been sleeping under several very large rocks for years to not know that, as a country, we are deeply divided right now. Actually, more than that. We’re angry.
Really angry… at each other. Often to the point of rage.
And it’s showing up in a lot of different places about a lot of different topics. On call-in radio shows. In locker rooms. In dining rooms. And, most definitely on social media, where even sharing benign statements can make you believe that the trolls finally found their way up from under the bridge.
Yes, many of us are angry.
But if you listen closer, to what isn’t being said, I believe that, behind and underneath that anger, is fear.
We’re afraid of something. Likely a lot of it has to do with change, as change and fear are common cousins. And then there’s simply the fact that, like a parasite, fear looks to latch onto something and disguise itself because it’s so vulnerable. And what’s more powerful than anger and hate? Heck, hate spews. Anger flares. While fear just hides.
So, with all that, how are we going to find our way back to each other, to no longer be that “house divided”?
Well, I believe the answer is in that second quote, because whether we want to admit it or not, we Americans are family. There is something that brought us together, even if it’s simply by being born in the same country. And, like any family, we’re going to go through tough times.
I don’t have to tell you this is one of those times.
We’re smack dab in the middle of crisis.
So, really, all that’s left to us is to decide. What will we do together as we face this crisis of the constitution of our character, as a country, and as individuals? Will it tear us apart, as we become unrecognizable even to ourselves, weakening our circle and inviting others to wonder whatever happened to America? Or will we somehow make it through and use this time as an opportunity to grow stronger together, to understand that “this great experiment” is – and always will be – a work in progress. One we have to believe in, stand up for, fight to preserve, every single day. Just like a family.
For me, I believe we will make it through.
I believe that the one thing greater than anger and hate is love.
I believe that we can be independent and still depend on each other. A dependence that is actually a sacred thing, helping us find the beauty in belonging.
And, I believe that this country is still, and will always be, ‘tis of thee and me…. of we, together.
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