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I am in a state of decrepitude after two days in a row trips to the gym after a hiatus caused by a bad back. My back is fine, but the rest of my body aches. Last night’s sleep was marred by paroxysms of sneezing and nasal congestion; I thought allergy season was done. Between the lack of sleep and this morning’s allergy pill I shan’t be too alert today. I may join Harper in her philosophy of sleep most of the day long. Happy Fourth of July.

There are benefits from being useless. I get to sit and think. Today is Independence Day and I am reflecting on the country in which I am a citizen. I am not one of the zealots who proclaims this country as the ‘greatest on earth’ nor do I tell others to love it or leave it when someone  brings up my concerns about the place.

My recent partaking in a US history course has put things into perspective. One reason Americans are currently bellicose and derisive I see as growing pains. Paradigms and usual modes of operations are a-changing.  The country is getting more diverse; this challenges the status quo on so many levels.  We are not doing a good job adjusting to them. This is due to the usual: resistance to change and an inability to compromise.

I am reminded of a church I used to attend when I lived in Chicago. It was a Lutheran church in a neighborhood which had turned in time to mostly ethnic. In it was a group of old (white) long-timers who were dwindling in number but still held the power. The attendance and vitality of the church was failing; all recommendations to grow were met with passive-aggressive resistance. They preferred the place die out rather than change to keep it going.  And so they did – and the church closed. The building was later bought by the locals, the ones they could have welcomed in the first place.

What I want to celebrate today is not independence from Great Britain (overall a mistake in hindsight) but independence from old ways that prevent us from growing in mind and spirit.

Alas, I am not optimistic. It is so hard to exorcise the old useless ways and the ones in power who are determined to keep these ways alive. I am reminded of an Ibsen quote from “Ghosts”:

“Ghosts! […] I almost think we are all of us ghosts. It is not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that ‘walks’ in us. It is all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we cannot shake them off. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sands of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.”

Today we celebrate as a nation, all for one and united we stand. Tomorrow we return to the internecine battles. Will we  grow, compromise and throw out out ways, or will we as a nation cling to “the same’ out of fears of the future and the unknown?  Time will tell.