What to do if you're not celebrating the 4th of July this year
Some great uses of your time this year
June has been quite a chaotic month for many. From disturbing testimony rendered during the January 6th Commission hearings, to recent controversial Supreme Court decisions, it’s easy for some people to feel like America’s not deserving of our celebration this year.
If you fit in this category, here are some things you can do instead:
Ask yourself when America was ever deserving of celebration
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most of the people who don’t feel that America is worth celebrating this year did indeed partake in July 4th celebrations in the past. After all, feelings of patriotism are lowest among the native-born population and highest among immigrants.1 So odds are that if you don’t want to celebrate America, you’ve been around long enough to have celebrated it plenty of times before.
This begs the question: if America isn’t worth celebrating this year, when was it ever? After all:
- The most recent Gallup poll of American standards of living shows a constantly improving quality of life among Americans over time,
- Americans earn a 32% higher inflation-adjusted wage than they did 30 years ago,
- Inflation-adjusted average incomes for US households—especially among the lower and middle classes—have increased significantly since 1967,
- Americans are astoundingly more educated than they have been at any point in history,
- While there is still a long way to go, race relations are at an all-time high relative to their position in past centuries,
- The gender pay gap is rapidly decreasing, and sexual harassment in the workplace is declining.2
These are a few entries in a long list of advancements. If you want, I am happy to provide more.
If America is not worthy of your celebration this year, in which of these years did it ever deserve celebration? In the ‘60s, when police forces were spraying black protestors with firehoses and attacking them with dogs? The ‘80s, when a woman couldn't go to work without having to expect some form of sexual harassment all for just two thirds of the pay of her male counterpart? If not this year, which of the other years in our country’s past were deserving of your plaudits?
Ask yourself what other countries would ever be deserving of celebration
This question is particularly relevant for those who are upset about recent Supreme Court decisions, especially the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. Many are quite upset with the decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade in spite of criticism (including that of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg) that it was an untenable act of judicial overreach. For many, the thought of “Moving to Canada” or some other foreign nation sounds inspiring. But let’s look at the data before we make any rash decisions.
Roe vs Wade was a global outlier
If you don’t think that the United States is worth celebrating because its abortion policies have become moderately more restrictive, consider that the following positively-viewed countries actually have abortion policies that would not be legal under Roe vs Wade:
- In Europe: Portugal, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, and Austria;
- In North America: The Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (In fact, Canada’s federal abortion law works exactly like America’s in a post-Roe world);
- In Asia: Japan, South Korea;
- In Africa/Middle East: South Africa, Morocco, Mozambique, Israel;
- In Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica
In fact, if you want to move to a country with abortion laws similar to America’s under Roe vs Wade, you have the choice of North Korea, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, and Singapore. That’s it.
And the comparisons don’t end at abortion laws.
Other countries’ histories are far more barbaric
Let’s also consider the histories of these foreign nations. Shall we discuss the colonialism lead by the British which has resulted in millions upon millions of deaths? Or of the “Scramble for Africa” which amounted to genocide? How about Spanish conquests of South America to the detriment of the native populations? Do I even need to explain the pasts of Germany, Russia, or Japan? Should we mention the Chinese Cultural Revolution which killed millions ad paved the way for a modern CCP which locks minority populations in concentration camps, or the brutal subjugation of minorities by leaders in African and South American countries? Or the Canadian genocide of its native populations or its complicity in British genocide as a dominion?
I could go on all day. The point is that if you feel America is not worth celebrating due to its flawed history, is there any country worth celebrating? My position is that there is not.
Ask yourself how you could possibly be deserving of celebration
I was a cringey middle-schooler. In an attempt to be funny and build something even remotely resembling a personality, I said plenty of offensive things. I used words that would be offensive to those with mental handicaps. I used homophobic language. I made jokes about women.
In the following years I quickly learned how horrendous my behavior was, and worked to do better. But you and I know full well that this doesn’t mean I became an angel. I regularly do things that later cause me shame. From snapping at my wife to neglecting to spend time with family, I am a flawed man. And while I’m more than willing to talk about my flaws, we should be clear that you have flaws too.
But despite what I’ve told myself in previous spells of depression, I am worthy of love and of celebration. And you, dear reader, are worthy too. You belong here on Earth with us, and your life has purpose. And before I say anything else, if you feel like you aren’t worth celebrating, please call this number or reach out to me.
That all being said, if we believe our fellow human is capable of growth and redemption, why isn’t our country? Surely a parent doesn’t rob their child of a birthday celebration because of a bad report card. So why then, do we rob our country and our countrymen of celebration simply because we have failed to live up to our ideals thus far?
America has failed to live up to its ideals time and time again. And yet, it deserves our celebration.
Much like I am a flawed man, we are a flawed country. The scourge of racism persists like a rotting vestigial limb. Our young adults face depression and suicide at an alarming rate. Many of us believe our country is on the brink of a civil war.
The United States of America has been a force for good. And while we are far from where we want to be, we move steadily—one foot in front of the other—toward a better and brighter future. The arc of history doesn’t bend toward justice on its own, but Americans and our compatriots have a habit of eventually finding the right direction to bend and applying enough force to get the job done. We fail, we learn, we grow, and we persist. And we do so in an effort—if an occasionally misguided one—to make the world a better place.
That alone deserves celebration. Don’t you think?