I want to join in those greetings. I really do. It is the Fourth of July, and I do want God to bless America.
But I'm not particularly happy. Profoundly grateful, yes, but not happy.
I am so very grateful today for the health of my family, and access to medical care at our point of need. I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink, a working vehicle with a tank of gas, a job with a fairly stable guarantee of income. I have a spouse who loves me without abuse. Our children received a decent education, and attend(ed) college. I have debts, but God willing that I keep my health and my job, I have reasonable assurance I will pay them off. There will be burgers and hot dogs on the grill today, and there's plenty of food in our pantry. I have all of my basic needs met, and then some.
I am grateful, and unhappy. We have leaders who waffled on decisions that could have lessened the impact of our pandemic crisis, and people who just refuse to listen to science, and now our local ICUs are reaching capacity. Yes, I have access to healthcare, but if I end up sick and hospitalized, it will not only be a health crisis, but a financial one.
I am unhappy because once again, there is mounting evidence of interference in the essential act of our democratic system--voting--from within our own country and beyond.
I am unhappy because even though people are screaming in righteous anger and frustration due to injustices based on skin color and sexual orientation, there are those in power and in the general populace who are arguing to keep the systems in place that perpetuate those injustices.
I am unhappy because there are people who still think that all it takes to make it in this great country of ours is grit and determination, when it really takes much more than that. Not one of us is a "self-made man"; our place in life is determined not only by our own efforts, but by wealth or lack of it, opportunity or lack of it, and assistance or lack of it--and much of that is influenced by race and gender. A little bit of luck doesn't hurt, either.
I am unhappy because too often I think of myself and my own wants, and forget others' needs. I am consumed by consumerism, to my own detriment (refer back to aforementioned debt). I have allowed outside influences to tell me what will make me happy, what determines a successful life, what makes me worthy and others not-so. I've given myself a no-spend challenge for the month, to jump off of the consumer hamster-wheel and redefine wants versus needs.
Part of my "celebration" of this Fourth of July will be reading two books: How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
I am grateful that I live in a country that allows protest, allows those authors to be published, allows me to write these words without fear of reprisal. I am grateful that my basic needs are met so that I have the brain-space to contemplate these issues.
I just wish I could be happier about it all.