I hope you are all enjoying your Thursday, whether or not you celebrate July 4th. For those of us who do, it’s a day that’s larger than life, with an idealistic focus on patriotism, often viewed through a filter of nostalgia for things that might or might not have ever existed.
My own view of this country has lost its soft focus, as I see how large sections of our society – once purported to be the model of freedom in the world – are embracing blind corporatism and racism and sexism and nationalism and extremism. I’m dismayed and confounded when I see how many people support the very -isms that will enable their destruction… and that of their children and grandchildren.
Examples of the ideals that I wish our country actually stood for – freedom, fraternity, prosperity for all – are depressingly difficult to find. When I find them, I embrace them and share them with my friends and loved ones, to give us all hope. And while this has led to accusations that I am relentlessly cheerful, it’s not because of the path I see our country accelerating down. It’s because I choose to be happy despite it all and because I reject fear as a basis for my life.
My granddaughter (a,k.a. la petite princesse) is one of the sources of happiness and hope in my life. This was two weeks ago; she’s almost 3 1/2 years old.
Look, I’m a working-class, white, college-educated middle-aged woman who is living paycheck to paycheck in a job that hasn’t raised its base pay in more than 6 years. I am the sole support for my family of three, driving a POS van (because I don’t want to work yet more OT to be able to afford a car payment) and hoping a major illness or injury doesn’t keep me home from work (because I can’t afford to drop down to the base-pay rate of my accumulated sick leave while I recuperate).
I know I’m lucky in so many ways and my life could be so much worse, and my heart breaks for those who truly have it worse. If I were living in a developing country, if I were not white, if I had no education, if I and my children were younger, if I were not employed or if my job didn’t have sick-leave benefits, I’d be in much more dire straits. After all, my problems are first-world problems, and a great many people would trade places with me in less than a heartbeat.
That said, I want so much more for my country, for my family, for humankind.
I want us to embrace one another as equal human beings.
I want us to look out for one another, to really care about one another.
I want us to be healthy and fed and educated and employed.
I want us to have enough physical and societal security that we can turn our energies to enriching our minds and spirits.
I want us to be a nation of thinkers and artists and loving souls.
And I want us all to want these things for the entire world, so that the whole of humanity can leave behind fear and hatred.
So happy July 4th, everyone. And thanks for joining me in my yearning for the ideal, no matter where you live.
As for me, I’m headed to sleep, then tonight I’ll work a little of the aforementioned OT and hope that the 911 lines don’t have reasons to light up like the fireworks some of you will be watching.
Good night, kittens!