I thought long and hard about what to write about this fourth of July. America seems like it's gone a little crazy. People are intense about things in ways they haven't been in a long time. People are going crazy and going on shooting sprees.
I think it comes down to Tribes.
Hundreds of years ago, America was occupied by roaming, competing tribes, who would vie for territory, resources, food, honor. We haven't changed much in the last few hundred years, either. And it's no surprise! Tribes are survival- a group of like-minded-folks, banded together against those crazy bastards who don't think like us, don't act like us and don't look like us. You can't trust those others. They are Up to No Good.
East coast, West coast...Conservative, Liberal...Christian, Muslim...Yankee, Southerner...Texas, Everybody else. Gun advocates, Gun Control advocates. Religion in schools Vs. separation of church from state. Bayformers fans Vs. Geewunners. Star Wars Vs. Star Trek. DC Vs. Marvel. Comics Vs. Movies. The "Biased Liberal Media" vs. the "Fear and Balanced Conservative Media". Black Vs. White.
All of them tense and ready to fight right now.
Lots of folks blame 45, Donald J. Trump for this. "He's making people more racist/sexist...etc." Trumps has said he's not racist...(secret fact! Any statement starting with the words "I'm not a racist..." is probably going to end up racist.) It shouldn't matter whether Trump is racist, sexist, a genius or a buffoon. If anything, I think he's just lancing a boil that's been festering. In any case, using the sitting president's behavior as an excuse for your own poor behavior is a huge cop-out. Just like saying "Make America Great Again" is a poor excuse for "let's go back to when racial intolerance and sexism were the order of the day, take the vote away from Women, and give old white guys back the power and prestige they once had". We are better than that. We are smarter. We have tools that can blur the lines between us, yet sadly, we often use them to draw the lines in deeper. We need to use those tools to understand one another better and draw closer, not more divided.
We are, all of us, racist, sexist, spoiled and self-centered. When we rise up from that, step out of our little tribes and remember that we belong to a big, welcoming tribe called Americans, that is the moment we are the american heroes. When we do things for the good of many, rather than to fill our pockets or glorify ourselves, that is the moment.
Whatever else you are doing, be an american hero today. Look not at the stories that drag us down but instead at the stories that make us better, that fulfill the promise we were made 241 years ago, of liberty and justice for all. Be that story.