This Independence Day seems like a good one to reflect on the nature of nationalism and unity.
We've just come through one of the most divisive periods in our state's history and, of course, it's not over yet. At the national level, things seem as polarized as ever.
First, it's important to remind ourselves that things have been much worse. We did fight a civil war after all. Differences of opinion are part of life. And for the most part in America, thanks to a brilliant but not unflawed system of checks and balances, we resolve our differences without violence.
As frustrating as our system is, last week's Supreme Court decision on health care came just in time to revive my faith in the American process. It appears that Chief Justice John Roberts did the unexpected, either because he really did apply the law as he saw it, or because he saw a need to bridge the divides in our country, or perhaps for some of both reasons. But there isn't much of a case to be made that he did it because he thought it might benefit him in some way -- he's being assailed by the far right.
I always get a little uneasy when people say that we should be "unified." What does that mean? Is there one right answer to every question that we should all be unified behind? Does it mean that once the majority chooses a course, we're all supposed to follow in behind it as if we never had another point of view?
Unity is overrated. The trick is to disagree without being disagreeable, to find ways to honestly state our differences, have some reasonable give and take, and then, every time we can, compromise our way toward progress.
In America, we should have some fireworks and we should be able to sit back and enjoy them in common appreciation, and come together, not in agreement on the issues so much, but in appreciation of the bright lights and the bangs of a healthy democracy.
Have a happy Fourth of July.