This Independence Day, as fireworks blaze across the skies tonight and friends and families gather for parties, Americans are humbly reminded of the birth of our nation and the accompanying rights and privileges that so many of us take for granted. Despite brilliant displays and booming reports, the 241-year-old celebration is struggling to remain relevant as more than a coast-to-coast barbecue.

Fireworks 07042017
Patriotism comes in a rainbow of colors.

Patriotism seems easily inspired by beer drinking, boating, and the opportunity for man-children everywhere to blow up things in their backyards. Crowds surge in red, white, and blue, and bands drum out marches for parades. We are eagerly patriotic citizens, but we are lazy, too — in for the party, but often forgetting about the cleanup.

Patriotism is a double-edged sword. It unites us in common causes, but divides us on issues. The people we ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ with on the Fourth of July are the same ones we snub outside the voting booth because we think we know how they voted.

While everyone enjoys a party, patriotism carries a heavy burden of responsibility, too. It requires all citizens to invest themselves as heartily in the processes of democracy as they do in parades and festivities — that they prepare to vote for candidates based on qualifications and character. Patriotism demands scrutiny and inquiry of our leaders and laws to maintain the nation’s even keel. It is not always fun, but the reward is that once-a-year fireworks show that gives us a chill in the middle of the summer heat.

Instead of celebrating the three basic colors of the flag this year, we should embrace our newfound and always expanding diversity. We must appreciate our nation’s independence from all tyranny and rejoice in every fresh and emerging color that represents a new America. We may all bleed red; and be true blue patriots; but white encompasses our nation’s rainbow of races, skin tones, and individuality.

This year, celebrate patriotism responsibly and always remember campaign slogans are the fireworks of the electoral process. They inspire voters, erupting in bursts of unified energy, and dispersing colorful language to attract crowds.

Like fireworks, however, once the show is over, cheap campaign slogans are mere empty shells — hollow words that carry no meaning. Moreover, like the aftermath of a fireworks show, campaigns based on fake, blind patriotism can also end up burning the crowds…especially when they realize the candidate is a dud.

Happy birthday and get well soon America. May You survive the cancer that is trying to destroy You.

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