As we celebrate the independence of our nation today, it is easy to get caught up in the politics of divisiveness, to lose sight of the goodness and the greatness of our nation, for right or wrong. We as a nation can do better, but let us not lose sight of how we have done better, and while we have our flaws, our country is one of progressive growth and enlightenment. I don’t believe that we take the time to realize that; instead of focusing on the improvements our society has made in the past fifty years, we fail to realize that we have and could be much, much worse. Do I think we’re a perfect, ideal society? No, I’m not that naïve, but on this day, I’d like to take a moment to set aside all of the negatives and think about the positives.
“America,” a hit for Waylon Jennings in the summer of 1984, is a song I love, because it captures the essence of brotherhood that Americans should feel toward each other; “My brothers are all black and white, yellow too, and the red man is right to expect a little from you—promise and then follow through, America” is a reminder that we are all equal, and we have work to do. The song pays respect to veterans, and then, in the next verse, says, “And the men who could not fight in a war that didn’t seem right, you let them come home, America.” That’s not a chiding, that’s praise—one that might seem odd from an artist in a traditionally patriotic and conservative genre of music as country. But that’s what made Jennings such a well-respected man; he’s not judging the Vietnam draft-dodgers; instead, he’s praising America for being willing to forgive their prodigal sons.
So this Fourth of July, take a moment to set aside your differences with your fellow countryman, shake their hand, welcome them as your brother and sister, and focus on the good things we have here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.