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This 4th of July, We Will Still Hold Some Truths to Be Self-Evident

The promise of our shared interests in anything close to attainment of our declared values and reason for being is lost to us unless we all stand together

Something about the commonality of simple summer joys being shared from generation to generation was oddly comforting.

Something about the commonality of simple summer joys being shared from generation to generation was oddly comforting. (Image: Franck Barske/Pixabay/cc)

I don't write as much anymore as I've been traumatized, angry, and a bit fatalistic about the events unfolding around us. Every American who cares about this nation even a bit ought to be paying attention—on all of the polarized sides. Yet, many of us really just don't care or are too tired. That hurts me and angers me too. Never in my adult life have I witnessed such discord, discomfort, and disengagement. 

And so what do we get as a celebration of our national Independence Day this year? Tanks and bombers rumbling through the same D.C. streets where I once marched with nurses, doctors, faith leaders, and others as we peacefully petitioned our government for more healthcare and less warfare—that's what we get from the angry, dishonest, and greedy man who is currently in the White House. 

It's a disgrace not only to those of us who disagree with Trump and his Party on issues but to the millions of dedicated civil servants and to the members of our military (and veterans) who care more about peace than war. Our nation has never been one that allowed a disdain for the press and disdain for the constitution to allow a phony, uber-militaristic, narcissist use our military for his own aggrandizement. It is sickening. 

So I retreated today. I went to the swimming pool in my apartment complex. Portable oxygen aboard, fighting a new round of anemia and starting on another damn round of antibiotics, I was feeling pretty poorly and not sure I wanted to be there at all. I thought maybe the late afternoon air and the intense sunlight might help. The pool is still a bit chilly so I got in and quickly under water up to my shoulders. 

On one side of the pool, two much younger, bikini-clad women were sunbathing and chatting up a storm. They lamented about ever having big asses like some other women they've seen. They made no secret about their judgment of people with less-than-perfect bodies. I felt lousy about myself and lousy for them that they do not really yet understand the potential for their own bodies to become sick, injured or even older and sagging, as most of us will find. I got out of the pool sooner than I planned as I couldn't avoid their voices. 

I settled into my deck lounge chair, covered my shoulders with my towel and leaned back to let the sun dry me a bit before heading back to my apartment. But then I heard what must be the sweetest sound in the world (or at least among them). I heard children's voices giggling and playing. The air was cooling just slightly, and I just rested in the peaceful sound of the little ones playing in the summertime. 

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On the other side of the pool was a young mother and her three young children—two little girls and a toddler son. She might have been expecting her fourth child as her tummy was rounded in that sort of way. The little girls stayed in the shallow end of the pool while their mom raced back and forth trying to keep her little son from throwing her keys, their shoes, the "floaties," and everything else into the pool. His little feet carried him so fast. Meanwhile his sisters called for their mom's attention periodically to observe their latest pool antics and cheer them on. It was a scene that had played out when I was a little girl, when my kids were little and now with those beautiful little children. Something about the commonality of simple summer joys being shared from generation to generation was oddly comforting. I was forgetting the painful words I heard from the others at the pool, and I was enjoying the whole scene.

Then, as if almost scripted for me, the little toddler boy came my way. His mom did not tell him to stay away from me (thank goodness), and I quickly gathered up my own keys, phone and Kleenex to get them out of his way. The boy walked right up to my chair and rested his tiny hands on my calf. He was so gentle and so tender. I touched his little arm and thanked him for coming to see me. I told his mom he was adorable, and she thanked me graciously. It was a loving moment shared by a little boy that this weary American sure needed. 

When I left that pool, I was pretty resolute about the 4th of July revolution I need and that I can still be part of building. We have to rebuild our caring for and about one another at the level of our own communities as we have not done before, and it has to start now. We are being assaulted daily and then-some by those with much to gain from our mistrust and division. We are reminded of all the reasons not to trust, not to comfort, not to touch and not to care about one another. We've retreated to our own, often solitary, devices—both culturally and more literally with our phones and tablets. That has never been more of a tragedy than it is to this nation now. The promise of our shared interests in anything close to attainment of our declared values and reason for being is lost to us unless we all stand together. 

We have to build a new and uncommon decency face-to-face toward one another, and we cannot do that by having someone screaming at us or scaring us or ginning up controversy to divide us and then conquer us so that the flow of wealth upward is never interrupted by the vast majority of us who have been purposely divided. 

It is pretty clear to most thinking adults in the world that the United States aren't very together or united these days except in our shared disgust with what has become of our chances to leave the planet and this country in better shape than we found it. We will have to do what we have known we would have to do all along. We must lift our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends to such a place of value in our own lives that we never again allow anyone to divide us from within. As an oft-quoted union organizing adage goes, "An injury to one is an injury to all." We simply must take our share of the responsibility for others in our communities who are, like us, trudging the happy road to destiny. We are all created equally, and we declare our intention to protect all that implies for us and all it requires of us. 

Donna Smith

Donna Smith
Donna Smith Donna Smith is the national chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign for Progressive Democrats of America.  She was featured in Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary, SiCKO.

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