Amy Roberts: This Independence Day feels more like routine than pride
This week, American flags are flapping in the wind on porch fronts across the country. Sparklers have been purchased, there’s extra beer in the fridge and grills are ready to go. All standard preparations to celebrate the 4th of July.
This year, though, it feels a little less celebratory. Sure, neighbors will still gather; parades and concerts and fireworks shows will still go off. There will still be a hot dog eating contest somewhere, the volume will be turned up a tad louder for the Star Spangled Banner. It will all still happen, but perhaps this year it’s more out of habit and nostalgia than true celebration of our nation’s independence. The whole thing feels a bit like opening Christmas presents with your family by court order.
We’re a divided country, to say the least. And yes, we’ve been divided before, even more than we are now. The Civil War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement — we were not exactly all in agreement during those periods of history. But it feels divided now, to be sure. Partly that’s because there is no way to avoid the partisanship. We have 24/7 access to people screaming at each other on a cable news channel. We are bombarded with thousands upon thousands of social media pages and websites, devoted to polarized narratives. Every day I see someone who is a friend, or at the very least a person I assumed to be rational, post something that makes me shake my head.
And of course, people act on that division much more now too. That constant cycle of information also covers people shouting or even shooting at each other in a rage of disagreement, setting aside any level of civility, compassion, or attempt to find a common ground.
We can’t even agree on basic facts anymore, because we’re divided by the reasoning behind them. One side wants to believe natural disasters are a punishment from God for some moral failure, while the other points to the science of human manufactured climate change.
It’s enough to make me wonder if sales of all the red, white and blue Made in China tchotchkes will be down. It’s difficult to really go all in celebrating our country when it seems so unrecognizable at the moment. The 4th of July is typically a holiday where patriotism is on full display. But according to a recent Gallup poll, a record number of Americans aren’t particularly proud of our country at the moment. I’m among them. I find it a bit ironic to wave a flag and brag about our freedom when we are currently imprisoning children at our borders, and are just one Supreme Court nomination away from overturning Roe vs. Wade, among other civil liberties.
Of course, this isn’t the first July 4th we’ve had with the divider in chief in the White House. But last year, we still had some level of hope Congress would grow a pair and keep Trump in check. The general expectation was that our elected officials wouldn’t let him lead us to this breaking point. But they did. Most members of Congress couldn’t pour water out of a bucket if the instructions were written on the bottom, so I’m not sure why we assumed they’d throw themselves on the grenades he lobs at will. Any shred of hope that might happen disappeared a thousand tweets ago.
My family is visiting for the holiday. We’ll walk in the parade and wave. We’ll “ooh” and “aah” at the fireworks. We’ll share food and drink with neighbors and friends. But I’m not sure we’ll do it all in any form of tribute to our country. Routine, maybe. Possibly hope. But pride? No, not this year.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Tom Clyde has a lot to worry about these days, with the coronavirus pandemic, the uncertain economy and airplane parts falling from the sky. Add mountain lions to the list.