AMERICA, July 5 — Today, tired and sunburnt, we share our national walk of shame, showing up to work with freedom on our lips and barbecue on our collars. Our collective voices are hoarse from loud laughter and big ideas; but today is reality, where passion lives among the stoic, and retweets are once again our currency. Everywhere is apple pie in plastic wrap.
Yesterday was all parades and fireworks, the kids running wild through the stereotypes, us with amber waves of grain alcohol. Together we shared our collective greatness, making every lawn a soapbox where we proudly wore our patriotic T-shirts from Old Navy (thank one Nation under God, they still fit from last year). For a moment America actually felt great again, and that felt great.
But today the ceasefire is over. We return to the bipartisan trenches as dictated by the rules we all agreed to in the latest iTunes update.
The truth is, July 5, 1776, wasn’t that much different from today. Granted, there was far less Lee Greenwood, but the confusion, obstacles, division and hardship? That was a thing, even if nobody posted it on Facebook.
While the signing of the Declaration of Independence is considered the birth of a nation, the news was not available in real time to the masses. It took months for word to reach the far corners of the country, and the British — crossing the Atlantic on the Theresa May-flower — were not going to let a piece of autographed paper trigger a reverse Brexit, no matter how much they all loved Hamilton.
It was a long, hard year, and yet America persisted.
We are still persisting.
These are the conversations I have with my boys, faced as they are with the never-ending onslaught of bad news that is anything but fake. I try to use history to show them that our country has been in conflict before, and that such times, these times, impossible though they may seem, often make the great things possible. It wasn’t always a musical.
Which is to say that I want my boys to fight. Not in some foreign war for oil and ego, but in the battles being waged here, every single moment. Why? Because they are white boys who will one day be white men, and it would be far too easy to sit back and let privilege guide them by the blinders. Far too easy.
Easy is not an option.
It’s time to get your hands dirty, boys.
Yesterday was a day to celebrate America: celebrate not its perfection, but rather its promise. And promise, after all, is a thing worth celebrating.
Today, however, is about the fulfilling of that promise, the fight for a better tomorrow and every day that follows. Today is one more chance to step in the right direction, toward purple mountains and everything.