Independence Day has always been a holiday that brings Americans together. For me, it’s always been about friends and family and food and fireworks, as much a celebration of summer as of America’s nationhood. Back in Wheaton, Illinois, where I went to high school, we lived on Main Street, and the Fourth of July parade was one of the biggest local events of the year. Our front porch was party central.
This year, the parade in Wheaton has been cancelled, as has the annual fireworks extravaganza in Downtown Indianapolis. Which is, perhaps, fitting—because the events of the last couple of months have, if nothing else, prompted us to take a good, hard look at our founding principles and make sure we’re living up to them.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, virtually every major advertiser and influencer has assured us that we’re “all in this together.” At the same time, the death of George Floyd and dozens, hundreds, of other Black Americans has underscored the point that we are a long, long way from equity in our nation.
It’s time for that to change.
We need equal justice, and we need it now—right now. We need true equality of opportunity—which means understanding that, in spite of our fancy ideals, there has been no equality in the past. And, yes: We still need to address the sins of our past—from the days our shores received the first European settlers right up through yesterday—with compassion and diligence.
There are forces that would divide us—for political gain or economic gain or some evil advantage I can’t fathom. We need to stand against them and speak against them.
And maybe this year, we ought to celebrate Interdependence Day. Because on a day that’s meant to celebrate the founding of our nation and the values we say we hold dear, we should also acknowledge and praise the fact that we really are in this together—and hope that, this time, we can actually start acting like it.