A couple nights ago Lisa and I watched a Vice News report about the senior project of Erin Bailey, a high school student in Columbus, Indiana. This was a bit of old news, as the event happened a few months ago—but I hadn’t seen the report. I only came across is now because a Facebook friend posted it.
It’s a fantastic piece. You should watch it.
For those who don’t know, Lisa and I spent a couple decades in Columbus. Brigid, our daughter, was raised there. It’s the home of Cummins, where I worked for twenty years. It’s a beautiful little place—filled with architecture and somewhat metropolitan despite its nestled nook in the mid-west. I often say I’m from Louisville—which is where I grew up—but the bulk of my life was lived in that little town, so it all adds up to mean that Columbus is my city.
That means the initial charm of the report was seeing places I’m familiar with. In this way it was similar to watching the movie Columbus–which I also loved, but for different reasons.
The charm went away quickly though, because it was replaced by variety of emotions—various senses of joy as I recognized faces I had worked alongside (and who were helping stage the event), and odd mixtures of amazement at seeing the way this event drew people together.
Today, as you’re celebrating America’s creation, I suggest you watch this report.
Watch it all the way through.
Think about what being “created equal” really means, and then later, when you’re in that happy frame of mind that comes from being all pumped up by music and barbecue and beer, apply the things you’re feeling to other places, other people, and other things you’re anxious about. Other events that leave you feeling edgy when you mull over the idea the we’re really all being treated as if we are equal. I know you feel those things. When you let yourself look closely, you feel the slant of our system. You know it’s there.
So, yes, think about the great things our country has accomplished—because those things are true and good.
But also think of the great people our country has left behind. As you are watching fireworks, grilling sausages, and generally pounding your friends on the back for being so fantastic, take a moment to ask how much greater we could be if we were fully living up to the ideas encapsulated in the document that set “us” free.
Think about what could have been today if only we had been just a little more perfect in the past.
Think about how great America can someday be.
And, yeah, when you’re done with the fireworks and the sausage…well…
think about November.