By Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
We don’t point out a guy’s faults when he’s about to blow out the candles on his birthday cake.
We wish the jolly, good fellow a fine day and many happy returns. If there are complaints, we save them for another day, or we swallow them whole and forget them.
It’s the right thing to do on someone’s special day.
At heart, July 4 is a birthday party, but the United States of America isn’t a single guy or gal.
It’s a collection of more than 310 million men, women and children, along with an often contradictory hodgepodge of laws, customs and rules, wrapped up in successes, failures and mediocrity.
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” sound like simple things, but the U.S. of A is a complicated place.
It’s a land of laws, except on certain occasions when those laws become inconvenient.
Freedom has been touted as a central virtue, even when slave ships docked at American ports.
Some folks have always been more equal than others.
These are truths about our great and wonderful country, but they’re not the whole story. How could they be?
Even with America’s history of falling short of its ideals, it’s achieved mighty things in the striving.
Our ingenuity has put men on the moon; medical science has relegated deadly plagues to the history books; and our artists – musical, visual, literary and otherwise – continue to inject the world’s DNA with undiluted Americana.
It makes you want to pump your fist and let loose a collective “YEAH!” into the universe.
And it makes us want to blow stuff up, which brings us back to July 4, a holiday we celebrate with controlled explosions.
We could call it a uniquely American experience, except the Chinese invented fireworks, but, hey, the bangs and flashes will be all about us on Monday.
I’ll be entranced by the fireworks at Ballard Park, and I’ll “ohhhh” and “ahhhh” with each new spectacular explosion.
I’ll be a proud American that day, but I’m a proud American every day.
One of the things that makes me the proudest is our ability to speak up, to complain, to gripe, to get it all into the open.
We may get shouted down for what we say, or we may want to shout someone else down, but Americans retain the right to tell it like it is.
Even that’s complicated – What? That guy thinks his puny thoughts are better than my towering ideas?
History tells us some Americans will push, others will pull and still others will watch from the sidelines.
Expect that to continue because we have plenty of mistakes to make as we go forward, and we’ll make them together.
Happy early Fourth of July, everybody.
Let’s celebrate America’s birthday with thoughtful reflection and wild abandon. We’re so darn good at both.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.