The 4th of July is normally a celebratory time a day of fireworks, picnics and displays of national pride. But this year the holiday arrives in the shadow of a pandemic and against a backdrop of national unrest.
This unrest, in the form of protests across the country, have put race relations in the spotlight. Historical symbols have been toppled and long-held beliefs have been challenged. You may have observed these actions as they unfold on news reports or social media and wonder where you fit in.
It all boils to respect.
The discussion of racism in America mostly focuses on changing institutions and the government. We blame the system, which somehow makes it out of our control. But each of us – all races – have a part in addressing the problem of race. As individual citizens, we have to respect one another.
July 4th celebrates freedom and American independence, the power of the individual. We individuals have more power than we think to end racism.
America has always been a great country, but also an imperfect one. Slavery was our original sin and while some may think we are far removed from that history, we are obviously still feeling its sting today. It is the responsibility of its individual citizens to ensure the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence and our other founding documents are lived out.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is up to each on one of us to make sure our great country is made even greater by adhering to the words of Martin Luther King that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
As you celebrate the 4th, be respectful of one another. Wear a mask. Social distance. Change must start within each individual heart. We can’t lay the solution to racism at anyone’s feet but our own.