As I reflect on the upcoming holiday, my mind is focused on what it must have been like for our Founding Fathers. The risks that they and their families took in gathering, planning, and carrying out their vision for a United States of America where all mankind was to be equal; to have an active influence in politics; and where everyone had opportunity for a better life, made possible through less taxation and government interference.
They risked death, disease, poverty, capture, and treason. Yet through it all, they were united in their cause. They didn’t agree on everything and heated debates ensued; however, they were all able to get behind common goals. Despite their differences, as long as they remained focused on these shared visions, they found a way to work together to achieve these ends.
Today, our challenges are not so dissimilar. Humankind seems so divided and special interest groups, politicians, and the media are guilty of playing to these differences. The unified message in the media is that we are a divided nation, a divided people, a divided world with every reason to protest, violate, and demean one another.
This is far from the vision our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much for. It’s a far cry from the oaths taken by our military, veterans, and law enforcement, and it is an absolute insult to the efforts to unify and free all in this Nation.
So, this Fourth of July, as we celebrate our freedom, and as many of us enjoy a day off from work, I want to challenge each and every one of us to consider a unified vision that we can all get behind: an active movement to be better to ourselves and to each other. I think we can all get behind a few ideas that I believe will help us achieve that.
First, be the best you that you can muster…even on your worst days, still give the absolute best that you can offer those days. There are days each of us fall short, say or do things we might regret, and hindsight is a great teacher, if we allow it. If we give our best each day, then we can live without regret.
Second, treat others with the dignity and respect that every living thing deserves simply because they are alive. We do impact others with every encounter, and our attitudes and behaviors can lift or lower. Choose to be kind and helpful. Choose to be of good character.
Third, seek to understand then to be understood. Each of our lived experiences is unique and cannot be accurately branded by others’ preconceived ideas. Without authentic and open conversation, we cannot learn from each other or learn more about ourselves.
Choose to find common ground. We are each more human than any label lives up to. Let us unite behind being good human beings and appreciating what we have, appreciating our accomplishments, appreciating the life we have been given, and all the freedoms that our United States of America guarantees to each and every one of us.
Tracy Hopkins is VFW 6710 Auxiliary President.