This year’s Fourth of July is painted with division: underneath the fireworks bursting in the air stands an American people torn apart by politics and ideological stigmas. The Supreme Court split 5-4 on the Hobby Lobby case when the Justices (I believe) should have unanimously voted in favor of the business if looking strictly at the Constitution rather than society’s mob rule. President Obama recently separated himself further from Congress by first blaming the influx of undocumented foreign children on Republicans and then setting himself above the law, stating he plans on “fixing” the problem on his own via executive order and without the legislative branch. And then there lies the question of what to do about Iraq, with the ISIS declaring an Islamic State which placed new limits on the already restricted freedoms of the people in its territory.
Put simply, the world is in chaos right now, and America’s domestic issues add fuel to that fire. Most people (including myself) have been trying to restore the nation to its greatness one issue at a time, but quite frankly, there are too many issues that need solving. If we fix the immigration problem, great. But will that help change the spirit of SCOTUS or the violence of the Middle East? Unfortunately, no. In our nation’s history, the moments when we have accomplished astonishing victories from our Declaration of Independence to the end of the Cold War have had one common thread: a peaked feeling of patriotism. The United States has survived its toughest ordeals by banding together and tackling problems hand in hand, Democrat and Republican, because the leaders at the time wanted the best for our country in the long run rather than being concerned about the fickle, short-term emotions of political activists.
It is possible Ronald Reagan foresaw a troubled America, and that is why he shared these words with New Yorkers on July 4, 1986:
All through our history, our Presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within.
He went on to explain that even two of our Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, faced the same sort of internal divisions which fueled political bitterness in the eighteenth century. Once they both retired, however, the two reconnected and wrote letters to each other regarding topics other than politics. They spoke of their hobbies, practical tips for every day life, their loved ones, the importance of religion, and ultimately their profound hope for the future of the United States. How fitting is it that both Adams and Jefferson died exactly 50 years after signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4th? Once enemies, the two passed from this world in brotherhood after seeking tolerance.
On this year’s holiday, Americans should recall some of Reagan’s final words from his 1986 speech:
…the things that united us — America’s past of which we’re so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country — these things far outweigh what little divides us…Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.
My fellow Americans, we’re known around the world as a confident and happy people. Tonight there’s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while it’s good to talk about serious things, it’s just as important and just as American to have some fun. Now, let’s have some fun — let the celebration begin!
Find a way to connect with your peers, especially the ones that disagree with you politically. Perhaps forge these bonds during this holiday’s celebrations. I firmly believe that if we each try to understand human beings individually and find a light in them, tackling politics will come easier.