July 4, 2020

A Somber Fourth

Today, I am at a loss for words. This used to be the day that we all celebrated the founding of our nation. Now, some of us do, while others don’t. Never in my life have I seen more open contempt of America by Americans. America’s greatest enemy, to many, is America. The American flag, to some, is a symbol of oppression and hate. How did we get here? We must retrace our steps.

A nation at any scale reflects the manners and character of its people. People are flawed. So nations are flawed; all of them. No nation has been or ever will be perfect, ours included. America has, from its founding, been self critical and highly combustible. That is certainly a part of the explanation of why we have prospered. But why might it be that discord breeds prosperity?

In general, discontent is bad. But imagine the individual who is pleased with themself and all that surrounds them. They are probably reasonably happy, but unlikely to set the world ablaze with glory. This may be no fault, but certainly one can see that contentment and ambition are dichotomous. Let’s consider another individual.

This other person is never quite at-ease and always wants to have more and be better. At times, this individual may extremely unhappy, or even self-loathing. In most cases we would not consider this person to be psychology fit. But, if I also told you that this individual was a world renowned scientist, author, or entrepreneur, we would begin to fit them into a different mold. We would give them a pass for their wants as their success merits their misery. We can take it a step further even.

No greatness could be achieved without a strong burning desire for betterment; a pain. Such pain, we must confess, is in the character of Americans. We seek to be better and sometimes, if we are to actually become better, it hurts. So we shouldn’t necessarily and totally lament all that is happening.

But a word of caution — the anger and self-loathing must not reach the level at we destroy ourselves. This happens to individuals. It can happen to nations as well.

On this day, we must take a deep breath and not forget the our bodies are the body of this nation. We are America, and for however strongly it may be that we want to improve ourselves, we must not forget to love ourselves as well.

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