This 4th of July was a bit sad for me. Having spent time with a number of youthful folks in the last few months, I realized that “patriotism”, “love of country” and other feelings most of us consider sacred have lessoned with newer and younger generations. Due to the ugliness of our leadership and consistent occurences of random violence, they tend to relate “patriotism” to “conservatism” and “haters” as they call them. That one moment on the 4th of July when we Americans unite as one is losing its meaning.
How did this happen? Don’t we all still love our country? Well, most of us may have united on Monday but by Tuesday evening, we were yet again torn apart by violence with the loss of Alton Sterling. In the midst of our grieving, it happens again – immediately – the next evening with the death of Philando Castile.
And on day 3, we see the violence elevate, in an act of retaliation, to the Dallas Police and Dallas Transit Police in a random shooting event.
No wonder our emerging adult population is feeling less patriotic than we do. While we always knew this type of thing was happening, we did not watch the graphic video of it in real time. We did not watch a man bleed out and die in real time while his girlfriend and a 4 year old child are sitting in the car.
Technology has transformed how we view all of these events. Our youth do not feel safe in their society. They are probably less color blind than any generation before them as they grow with diversity in our country. They just cannot stomach what they see and they are becoming more cynical by the day.
Our great experiment of democracy is at risk. The candidates for President and an extremely unpleasant Congress are partly to blame. People very much feel that their vote doesn’t matter anymore and if I hear one more person tell me they won’t vote this year, I will punch them. I always try to remind them there is much more on the ballot than president.
We must find a way to continue the great experiment of America. (I refuse to call it ” ‘merica” as is so popular these days.) We must vote. We must educate. We must grieve for those lives lost. Black lives do matter. We have to start finding solutions to the challenges we face.
Raising a generation of hardened cynics will not help us do that. For the sake of everyone, can we please find a way to unite?
One of my favorite quotes:
“The ship of democracy, which has weathered all storms, may ultimately sink by the mutiny of those on board.” Grover Cleveland.
For my black friends, former students and all people of color – please tell us how to help. We do not walk in your shoes but we love you and want to help.
For all families and victims of random violence, our thoughts and prayers are with you. How can we help?
To the law enforcement officers who strive to protect most of us, we grieve your individual losses. How can we help?
It may be time for another “Hands Across America” movement.
I’m so sad. I grieve for our youth, the lives of innocent victims and our law enforcement community.