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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day to all...

The "blog about the 4th" momentum is too strong for me to resist. I have to play along, too.

I work with people from all around the world. Americans, Canadians, Brazilians, Indians, Malaysians, Thais, Fillipinos, Irish, Australians, New Zealanders, Spaniards, Pakistanis, Romanians, South Africans and others. I even work with a few folks from England--our avowed enemy back in '76. My world is international and borders don't always register with me the way they do with other people.

It's hard for me to think about a holiday in terms of "my country" when I have sort of recalibrated myself to think about "my world."

I do love America. It's my home. I love much of what goes on here. There are also parts of the "American experience" I don't like. There are many policies enacted in my name as part of the United States of America that I don't like. Nonetheless, I love America. Particularly, I love its potential.

That's really the one thing we have going for us. Potential. We have stumbled (apologies, founding fathers if that verb choice accords you too little respect) upon a system of government that is open-ended. There is room for flexibility, adjustment and advancement. Nothing is "set in stone." Yes, we have some bedrock principles underlying our historical governing documents, but their beauty is the way they embrace an ability to change.

So, today I am going to celebrate America's potential. Instead of resting upon laurels and celebrating its successes or being overly critical and spending the day attacking its weaknesses, I am going to appreciate the potential of the United States of America.

Interestingly, that is something everyone can do. Regardless of your political leanings or desired outcomes, each and every American can find common ground in terms of the potential we have as a nation. How is that for avoiding the divisive politics that tend to pollute the civic waters?

Celebrating potential is a fitting tribute to those who signed off on the Declaration. After all, that document didn't actually do much on Day One. It didn't win a war or establish a nation. It made a statement. It said we aren't going to tolerate limits. We won't abide by tyranny. We won't answer to arbitrary authority.

That's a sanitized reading off the document; a positive interpretation that strips away some of the economic motivations and doesn't dwell on some of the not-very-flattering comments about native Americans ("the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions...") but for today's purposes we will focus on the positive.

We have a pretty cool country here in the U.S.A. It certainly isn't perfect and there is plenty of room for improvement, but the great thing is that we have the opportunity to fix it if we can combine sense, will and smarts.

Have a happy Fourth of July. If you are a U.S. citizen, try not to blow off your hand while lighting that M-80 with the barbecue grill.