Independence Day is a pleasant pause at summer’s start to celebrate our nation. Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s a day to consider how we got here and where we are going.
To be sure, July Fourth is an indelible date synonymous with our founding. It’s also a day on which we enjoy our unfettered freedom to celebrate (responsibly) with fireworks, picnics and barbecues with friends and family.
We thank the founders who had the courage to establish the United States 240 years ago on the best of our nation’s ideals: to establish a democracy that now ensures basic human rights to all citizens, and that guarantees those citizens the opportunity to pursue their lives and liberty as they see fit.
Most importantly, we keep striving, with fits and starts, to keep that freedom alive. We know that freedom came at a huge cost: hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting for the ideal we reach for today.
Independence from England and King George III’s tyranny drove our founders to write and agree to the Declaration of Independence on a hot July day in Philadelphia in 1776. We can all agree that independence should be defended and cherished.
We also need to agree that with that independence is a recognition of interdependence, not just at home but abroad.
Interdependence at home means all Americans can be treated fairly by the government and by their fellow citizens, even though that concept is challenged daily by those who choose hate and fear over comity and cohesion.
Interdependence abroad means recognizing we’re but 6 percent of the world’s population, and we owe the world not only fair treatment, as citizens of the planet, but also the openness necessary to achieve our own goals: functioning democracy, access to markets, free global communications, and the preservation of natural resources needed to support a strong and vibrant country.
The world is an imperfect place. In the United Kingdom, 17 million people decided that in the pursuit of some make-believe past, they would sever their ties to the European Union, a flawed but ultimately stabilizing force in a region that has experienced more than its share of turmoil.
At home, the putative GOP presidential nominee attempts to make points by division and hate, rejecting the notion that the art of the deal also includes the party across the table. But if the past few centuries have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t fire the world or our neighbors.
We have to live together. Happy Interdependence Day.