Last night my city did an early fireworks display at the park across the street from our house, and when I was getting chairs set up for us in the front yard I asked my oldest daughter if she was ready to go out and see the fireworks, and she told me she didn’t want to see a celebration honoring slave owning people. At first my attitude was like “Aw come on! Yes they owned slaves, but that was 2 and a half centuries ago! It’s just fireworks!” But as I thought more about it this morning, I realized there are lots of reasons to not celebrate this country. From slavery to taking Native American lands to interning Japanese Americans in concentration camps to interfering with foreign governments to trying to take over our own democratic systems to favoring the rich over the poor. The list just goes on and on. Did you know we caused the deaths of at least 200,000 Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century? We can be a horrible, evil nation. But then I realized that that does not have to be our focus. The United States is made up of people, and there’s plenty of evil people out there that we could be focusing our attention upon, but there’s also plenty of great and decent people that should be getting our attention. I took a long walk this morning while I was thinking about all of this, and you know what happened? Nothing. And I mean nothing in a good way. I didn’t have to dodge any gun fire. I didn’t have to avoid any missile launches. I didn’t have to worry about my home being invaded while I was away. And all of that is because a lot of good people strived and sacrificed so I could walk around my city in peace. I was heart broken last year when I saw a world news story about a Syrian father who convinced his 3-year-old daughter that the explosions around their house were actually fireworks, and he made it into a game where when he heard one about to land he taught her to anticipate the noise in a fun way. He actually had her laughing about their near death experiences. I don’t even know if they’re alive right now. But I still am, and I’m going to use my freedom to do as much good as I can for my family and friends and neighbors as is possible. We should all choose to focus on the good and then go from there. Thank you for reading my blog.