An Open Birthday Card to America
For 241 years old, you don’t look half bad. You’ve still got those amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties working in your favor. You’ve got nearly every language and religion, and, God bless you; you’ve got TexMex. From Epcot to Mount Rushmore, the Rockies to Niagra Falls, you’re breathtaking. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street to the farming towns of the Midwest, you’re diverse and creative and just really rad. There’s not many like you, America, and that alone is worth celebrating.
But before you get a big head… in terms of countries, you’re still a puppy— restless, at times senseless. Though the years have piled on, you’ve got some learning to do, lady. And this year it really showed. You got your teeth kicked in a bit, while the rest of the world watched.
And your people, oh boy. We didn’t help matters. We went a little haywire. I’m sorry! We forgot that while we might walk leaning a little to the left or hugging the curb on the right, we’re all on the same road. We slowed you down, stood in our own way. And while we nipped at each other, we expended our energy defending the rights of those most like us, instead of daring to understand those most different.
Now that I think of it, you seem a little...worn down. Somehow stripped of your shine, raw like weathered wood. But raw—that’s a good place start. Honest and rough around the edges gives us a chance to see where the work really needs to happen. Where we all need to slog in, find the slivers and rifts that need fixing. America, you’ve been here before: divided yet still one.
A knot of chords held together with a melody that sounds a lot like liberty and justice for all. And yeah, you’re not there yet. You still struggle with how to make it all happen. With how to live up not only to your own heavy expectations and the ones the world has laid on your young shoulders as well. But if you’re up for the challenge, we’re with ya. Because it’s worth it to pursue freedom and justice and goodness, to explore and debate the best way to get there. Just be patient please. Don’t give up.
Because the truth is, we need you, America. We need the hope and ideals and open hands you give when you’re at your best. Spout off Old Faithful a little early, and maybe give Mt. St. Helens a little puff puff—it’s your birthday!— and I for one am thankful to know you, to be you. I will celebrate you for how remarkably far you’ve come and for how far I believe you will go.