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fourth of july

Fireworks, Fun, and Reflection This Fourth of July

| Angela Naff |

It’s the Fourth of July again – one of the year’s biggest holidays here in the United States. While many have come to recognize it by the massive sales, family, and friends gatherings, and fireworks. The holiday though has roots deep in the beginning of this country as it is the celebration of nationhood, commemorating the passage of the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the United States of America. While the fervor with which the first Independependence Day was established has long passed, it is still a good time to take a moment and reflect on the freedoms that our founding fathers were seeking to establish.

Freedom from persecution, religious oppression, and other human rights that were not being upheld to the degree those early explorers felt was right in their homelands brought them here. The penning of the Declaration of Independence was just that – a list of rights that would inalienably be assigned to those who reside in the United States. The freedom, struggle for rights that everyone felt were owed them, and the fight to maintain their status as “free individuals” began when they stepped foot on boats, targeted for an as yet formed country, one dangerous journey away from their homes of birth.

Fourth of July

Today, we miss the fight, faith, and perseverance our forefathers went through to bring this country to fruition. We are in the midst of a political and social season of unrest in this country that is redefining many aspects of our country, from gender stereotypes to freedoms of our body and new discussions on the rights each of us believes should be ours. The fact is that having these heavily charged conversations, even happening, is a freedom that we should all relish. We get to choose the causes we want to fight for and the beliefs we choose to adhere to each day in our lives.

Yes, that means you can get on social media and post your thoughts on just about any topic – and the government can’t prosecute you (of course, that is as long as it is not criminal). You can march in the streets for causes dear to your heart, and we all can debate heartily the candidates up for election each time that privilege comes around. The Declaration of Independence didn’t agree that we all would agree on everything and toe the line, so those that believe that people must have the same thoughts on tough subjects are wrong – we have the right to challenge anything that impacts our world.

For this one day, we should all think about the other aspects of this holiday. Temperance allows people of different faiths, belief systems, and lifestyles to co-exist in a single country. there is a lot of land, cities, and housing to allow us to give each other space – which seems to be something we are all missing. Forcing beliefs, religions, and ways of life was why our forefathers left their original countries to find the freedom to live as they wished elsewhere. Maybe there is a lesson in that we should all take to heart and let each other of other beliefs live as our neighbors without fighting.

Today is a wonderful day to gather with those we love for some great memories. We can join in with our community to watch fireworks, take in sales, and other activities. We can relish in the freedom of autonomy to our decisions, those we support, and the communities we choose to support. Maybe all of us should take a moment to start a blessings list today of the things we enjoy that others might not in countries not of our own.

This Fourth of July list of positives will not completely overshadow the negatives and disagreements brewing in our country today – but maybe for a single day, it is enough to just celebrate together and give our fellow Americans a break from the rampant rhetoric. Put down social media devices, the anger, the dissension, and just take a breather to co-exist for one glorious day in a country that has given us many freedoms over the generations. No person or country is perfect, but tomorrow we will pick up the fight to continue shaping our world and this country, knowing the next fourth of July, the issues being fought will evolve once again. Change is inevitable, and seasons of new battles will always rage in a country filled with so many different cultures, backgrounds, and belief systems. Together, this mixing bowl of differing personas makes up the country we call home.

Happy Fourth of July, Suncoast!

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos and Unsplash

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