happy 4th of july?

i’m finding myself facing this particular 4th of july with some mixed emotions about our democracy.

first let me say i love the US and am grateful to live here. i’m especially grateful for the men & women of our military who serve selflessly. i’m in awe of their willingness to sacrifice for us all. i have family members who’ve served and i have huge respect for the families of military members who are just as brave and selfless as our service members.

but i have some significant concerns about our government. our country was founded by some folks with lofty ideals and i think for many years, as a society, we’ve improved on that, but i’m not sure that’s true any longer and it concerns me.

i’ve gotten a bit involved in some local government issues since i’ve moved to tennessee and i’ve noticed a few things which leave me concerned:

  • we have too many politicians and too few statesmen (statespeople). politicians revolve around making sure they’re re-elected and end up being so busy trying to gather the power and money necessary to stay in office, they get little governing done. and all too often their votes reflect the interests of the people who paid to get them elected rather than the populace that actually elected them. statespeople actually do the work of governing, which is hard and messy and requires the ability to compromise.
  • we have too few people in government willing to compromise. it’s all about being right and getting one’s own way which goes back to the point above of politicians working to stay in power rather than do the work of governing. our country has big problems that flag-waving and fireworks simply won’t fix. it’s going to take some statespeople who are willing to look at the big picture and find the best solutions for the most people. it’s going to take them standing by their convictions, truly representing the interests of all the people in their districts–not just the ones with money–, a willingness to compromise and not just be ‘right’ to start fixing any of our problems.
  • we’re too apathetic when it comes to government and way too into the rhetoric of politics. we have to elect people with enough sense and backbone to be statespeople. we have to elect people who can enact sensible laws that are in the best interest of the majority of all citizens. and we have to stay involved. we need to show up at city hall and learn what is going on. we need to insist the officials we elect to washington hold town halls and explain to us first-hand what is going on in a format that allows us to ask questions and understand issues.

so i celebrate this 4th a july with a mix of emotions: gratitude for a democracy and those who protect it; concern and a bit of grief that as a people we’re failing to do our best; and hope that we can improve on our current government record and create a better reality for the now and a better future for those who come next.


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