“Today’s the fourth of July. Another June has gone by. And when they light up our town I just think what a waste of gunpowder and sky.” – Aimee Mann, 4th of July

Part of the American problem is that, for some of us, in our heads we believe we’re all the same. We get up and look out our windows and see neighbors who look like us. We shop at grocery stores where most of the people drive the same brand of car we do to get there. When we worship, we choose a place where we’re comfortable being part of the congregation. They say birds of a feather flock together, after all. It’s human nature. Our idea of America looks, thinks, and worships just like we do.

Except, that’s actually the opposite of America. And today all of us mutts, in different shapes, colors, genders, ethnicities, religions, sexual preferences, ages, etc. etc. etc.–celebrate the idea that we are free to live life true to ourselves without persecution or judgement as long as we’re nice to one another. It’s crazy when you stop and think about it, this concept of pluralism as the foundation for an entire country. How could it possibly work–all these different kinds of people from all walks of life uniting under one flag to form a functioning nation? How in the hell can that country be great?

The answer is that it’s our differences that make us great. Because even though I complain a lot about our flawed systems, our corrupt politics, how ignorance is a huge cultural problem, and how we consider our net worth our true value in the world, I am in love with the fact that we are all different. I actually take pride (and comfort) in knowing that no one here is exactly like me.

Sometimes it seems like individualism is hanging on by a thread here, but to me it’s why the United States is still great. And why Independence Day is my favorite holiday.


Jim Mitchem

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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.