Happy Independence Day, everyone.

If you’re like us, you might get a little tired of the bickering, yelling, snide remarks, incivility disguised as “political incorrectness,” complaining ... oh ... oops, now we’re starting to sound like whiners ourselves.

The point is, we like living in America and we think that it’s much better than a lot of us are willing to give it credit for because we’re too busy complaining and accusing to really give it much thought. 

We believe in democracy and representational government and hope that we’re mature enough to understand that the perfect representative of our own beliefs doesn’t always win the popular vote. In the U.S.A., there will be a next time.

And doesn’t having a democratic society mean there are bound to be warts, wrinkles, occasional spitting contests (and, so, spit), moments of great stress? And all those things are judged subjectively ... what’s a defeat for you might be a victory for me, so confusion is a big part of the American psyche.

But how would you rather have it? There’s not much confusion in a dictatorships, in authoritarian states, in countries run by oligarchies (where the only thing that can be confusing is trying to remember who’s currently in and who’s currently out so you don’t mess up and end up headless).

Surely America has a great number of problems to solve. But look farther abroad. We are not executed and our families are not banished because we let the supreme leader down. We are not dragged from our homes at night because an informant overheard us speak a truth. 

We’re not afraid to recognize that we have freedoms and that we are also free of dictators, even though there are still great injustices. We have strong bones. Democracy has strong bones. Regardless of what disappoints us in America, we need to make sure we appreciate it.

What we’re saying is: don’t define the American experience by your disappointments alone.

We’ve been asking questions and seeking comments online the last few months and we’ve been re-publishing those thoughts on line and in print. We think there is a legitimate use for documenting the public’s responses to various questions. Is it news? It might be a different sort of news, but we think it is– how people feel about a subject gives us a measure of ourselves. It can be maddening to read some of those opinions, some others inspirational, and it’s all helpful if you try to make it useful.

This week, we asked people to reflect on what makes them love the U.S.A. 

“It’s Fourth of July week, and we’re hoping to transcend partisan bickering in this collection of quotes. We’re proud to be citizens of the U.S.A. ... let’s reflect on that for a while.” That was the preface to one of our forays for comments.

We got a fair number of responses (which will be published this weekend). Most of them were made in the spirit of the question– things we love without belittling others or ranting. There are always those. Ah, democracy. There were many more who mentioned what they’re proud of, what they’re inspired by– big things and little things. How could taking a little time to acknowledge what you appreciate do anything but good?

Happy Fourth of July, again. Here’s hoping that we are all able to take a little look around this day and spot something that makes us happy to live here.

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