July 4 reminder: Our struggles make us great
The president of the United States is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice, and members of his campaign are being scrutinized for their connections to a hostile foreign power.
Less than half of people surveyed by Pew in 37 countries have a positive view of the U.S., a drop from nearly two-thirds in recent years.
A man recently targeted Republican congressmen for assassination — not long after voters in Montana elected a man to Congress a day after he body-slammed a reporter.
Videos of police-involved shootings routinely go viral, political polarization has become a legitimate national security concern and the mortality rate among some groups has increased in recent years.
None of that should sully planned Fourth of July celebrations; it should enhance them. The struggles we are facing means there’s never been a better time to be an American.
This country was forged by fire. It didn’t spring up whole cloth out of comfort, but was conceived because of discomfort. An urgency to fight injustice and correct wrongs was the impetus for a new kind of democracy. The country’s birthday wouldn’t mean as much, wouldn’t resonate for so many, if it had happened any other way. Imperfect men and women — who owned and beat and raped slaves — revolted against other imperfect men and women an ocean away. It was bloody and relentless and cruel. It was full of contradiction and grounded in the untenable, that all “men” were created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, but only if those men had the proper skin tone or a large enough bank account or were ... men.
It was not easy to come through that, and another great war about eight decades later, stronger and with a greater appreciation for freedom. But we did.
Greatness is revealed in times of strife, because greatness is the only thing that can successfully pull us, kicking and screaming every step of the way, to the other side and into a better day.
That’s why there has never been a better time to be American, because greatness will have to reveal itself again to pull us through, again. It has always shown up when it’s been needed most.
Greatness must show up in the arts and entertainment and journalism and politics and education and medicine and science and public policy and economics and business and just about everything else.
And it will.
The United States hasn’t been great because it has been perfect, but because it always searches for new, innovative ways to identify and address its imperfections, sometimes through corporations seeking more profit and influence, sometimes through government entities trying to be worthy of the power they’ve been granted, but frequently through individual citizens sick and tired of being sick and tired. That relentless pursuit has long been the country’s No. 1 calling card, convincing talent from throughout the world to study and live here.
Greatness is within reach of more people than ever because of the global technological advances the U.S. made possible. That should give us confidence even when headlines depress.
There has never been a better time to be American, because greatness will have to reveal itself again to pull us through, again.