You may be dysfunctional, but you’re still my fellow American…

Musings on the Fourth of July

By Bill Guy

Neighbors invite us newbies to the annual cul-de-sac Independence Day party. Pot luck in the park. Bring your lawn chairs, celebrate the holiday. Get to know your neighbors better. Quite a mix. Mostly retired folk or those countin’ it down. One younger couple with two grade school boys and a gorgeous little girl with mocha skin, topaz eyes and Shirley Temple curls. Two couples obviously long-time SoCal denizens. Others sporting tans, but still betraying back-east accents. Expatriate Brits, Asians, Okies via Massachusetts and Tennessee, and an Illini married to an Islander. Maybe a Hispanic hombre, but then again, he might be an Italian uomo.

Food was great. Traditional favorites like hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs. But also tasty dishes from newcomers’ kitchens cooking other cultures. Scotch Eggs, Asian noodles, salsa. Cheesecake with blueberries and strawberries, peach cobbler, chocolate covered strawberries soaked all night in vodka. Later, we could watch the city’s fireworks from our back yards.

Having a liberal/progressive “ear,” I could hear comfortable dialects. But I also heard a tad of conservative creole. One a different day, under different circumstances, it’s possible a Teabagger rant could set me off, or more likely, my egalitarian elicudations would prompt a conservative comeback. One’s evangelicalism could create dissonance with another’s agnosticism.

None of that made any difference this day, though. We were just today’s average group of Americans celebrating our country’s birthday. On this day special to Americans, we didn’t talk much religion or much politics. We just shared families – kids and grandkids, jobs, schools, golf, movies, recipes and the lucky serendipity that brought us all to live in/near America’s Finest City, San Diego.

And on any day, despite our political or spiritual or cultural differences, I think we’d all fight for the other’s right to be wrong. We’d proffer meals and meditations at a death and provide a warm bed in a disaster. Tears in a tragedy.

No doubt, it’s easier in a neighborhood niche where see each other daily, taking out the garbage or driving in from work. When our kids shoot hoops or dish about boyfriends. But wouldn’t it be better if every day, we could put a damper on our differences. Celebrate our similarities. Agree to disagree, but still be there for each other. Defend each other’s rights. Cover each other’s backs.  Not just in our own streets, but throughout this great country. Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be about?  Sure . . . but it’s sometimes darned hard to hang onto that understanding in the midst of partisan politics, economic uncertainties and rapid, uncertain change. Could we all do a better job of regularly living and let-living the American ideal, the American dream?

It’s up to us . . . we the people. Happy Birthday, America!

Bill Guy is a resident of San Marcos.