After a painfully cold and wet spring that had people wondering if summer would ever arrive, the season arrived with a thud, with traffic backed up on the roads as the first big weekend of the summer arrived just before the Fourth of July.
You remember the Fourth of July, don’t you? It used to be the most joyous of all our national holidays — the day when Americans of all political stripes took a day off to celebrate the birth of what remains the greatest political experiment in history by going to a parade, enjoying a picnic, or gathering with family and friends to watch the fireworks.
But it doesn’t feel quite the same these days. America is a divided nation, perhaps more so than at any time since the run-up to the Civil War. The media has neatly divided the entire country into red and blue states, with no apparent recognition that America is a much more complicated place than that — and certainly not one that can be boiled down to the two colors that represent the political parties that only a quarter to a third of eligible voters cast their ballots for in any given election.
In recent years, there has been a rise in racial tensions, an increasingly us-against-them mentality pitting established Americans against newcomers, be they here legally or not. Too often, we turn on the TV news to learn that differences have been settled at the point of a gun, be it in the classroom, the newsroom, or even a church.
At times like these, it’s important that there is much more holding us together than tearing us apart and that we have so much for which to be thankful — from the right to practice our faith, send our kids to school, or even pile our plates high with food at the dinner table.
Hot weather, like that which has arrived on our shores last weekend, is often enough to short-circuit the short tempers of East Enders, who often feel put out by the mobs that descend upon us each summer. Our political differences certainly won’t be settled overnight, but maybe some of our pointless animus can be.
It’s time to chill out and practice a random act of kindness. We might just like it.