My husband and I  have just experienced an incredible drive up the coast of California between Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as visits to Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco and Muir Woods. We enjoyed breathtaking vistas of rugged coastline and walked a trail gazing up at immense redwood trees. The experiences have been thrilling and even spiritual. Two songs kept coming to mind: “This Land is Your Land” and “How Great Thou Art.” This trip was the perfect backdrop for reflecting this July Fourth on the wonderful country I call home.

Jerry Large

A piece in today’s paper by Seattle Times staff columnist Jerry Large called “Remember What We Should Be Celebrating” resonated with me.

People will casually say this is a country built on a set of ideals rather than a nation bound by a shared ethnicity, race or religion. But what that means is that we can’t just celebrate an event that took place in 1776; we have to work constantly to keep what began then alive.

Never in our country’s history has the fragility of connection between its citizens been challenged so much, as fear and ignorance give rise to prejudice and misunderstanding. As Mr. Large said, “We still have descendants of immigrants who despise new immigrants,” and that’s such a contradiction with the principles on which our country was founded. Hard times, such as our current economic situation, can bring out the worst — or the best — in us, and diversity can challenge our feelings of connection.

As I reflect on America’s amazing flexibility and resilience, and on the times such as the Civil War when we almost tore ourselves apart, I say a fervent prayer for this country and its potential for a future of opportunity and prosperity for all. As Jerry Large ends his column,

We ought to look down the road and ask what kind of country we want to leave to our grandchildren. Enlightened or ignorant, we all get to choose.

He is so right.

What choices can you make today to help ensure America’s future?

Photo credit: “Colors” by Billy Alexander (via http://www.sxc.hu), Charlotte, NC, http://www.dreamstime.com/Billyruth03_portfolio_pg1
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