Responsible 4th

It is going to rain today, the 4th of July. Picnics, swimming, family gatherings, kids running freely, asking a million times when the fireworks will start, all dampened by the weather. It has been chilly here, we have huddled under blankets instead of running through the sprinkler. Fewer mosquitos, but fewer fireflies as well. I wonder if God isn’t telling us to cool it with the patriotism just a bit?

I love our country, I so love that we have freedoms. My heart sings when a small group of people believe strongly in an issue, rise up, others join, change happens. I get to vote because of some of those people. I go to the church I want, my friends go where they choose, others opt not to go. Many of my friends now get to marry who they love too. Our freedoms make us the envy of other nations. Yet with freedom comes responsibility, something we strive to teach our children but as adults seem to have forgotten.

I now allow my Plum to walk 3 houses down to his friend’s, which means he has to cross a gravel road. We discuss each time his job of looking both ways, over and over, not getting distracted, how he has to do this EVERY time.  I still watch, I sit on the porch, I listen, I don’t trust yet. The price of his freedom is too high for me but I know I have to let him stretch his wings, begin to make choices.  In the beginning, when he forgot to look, I reminded him, we talked about consequences, how dangerous it is. Later, I gave a warning that the freedom would be lost. When he forgot again I sat his little butt in the chair and he didn’t get to go to his friend’s house again that day.  Tears, accusations that I don’t love him anymore, proclamations that I will never let him go again all came fast and furiously, the all or never thinking of a 5 year old ruling. As he calmed down and climbed onto my lap, he accepted that he had made a bad choice, he knew what would happen if he did it.  “But, gran, I was just so excited!” I get it, freedom is exciting. He is learning.  He looks every time now.

I think we are too far removed from those early lessons that came with some of the freedoms our nation is battling over, we need a bit of time with our butts in the chairs, remembering that freedom comes with responsibility. We can have guns but do we need assault rifles? We have free speech but do we need to spout hate? Have we forgotten that our individual way is a freedom, just like our neighbor’s? When we go to church or the mosque or the temple, our forefathers delight. The diversity of our nation is our strength, one Hitler would abhor. Taking in the poor, the tired, those seeking to share our freedoms makes us stronger, keeps our nation building on the foundation set long ago. When we forget our history, forget the warnings to look both ways before crossing, we are put ourselves in danger.

Today, this rainy 4th, I think God wants us to remember that, Yes, He blesses America, but He doesn’t stop there. He is putting our butts on the porch, slowing down our celebrations hoping we might remember what America really once stood for, how she came to be. This constitution we celebrate may not say what you think it says. A small group of people got together and changed things. Maybe our time on the porch will help us do the same.

Happy Birthday America, may today be a reminder of who we once were as a nation, who we can still be. Let the fireworks light the sky for all to see.


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