This July 4, I’ve been traveling around the Midwest, much of which is suffering with drought conditions. The extended lack of rain means firework displays will not brighten the night sky to celebrate the country’s independence.
While citizens may not get to “ooh” and “aah” over multicolored sparkles exploding overhead, most communities haven’t given up their celebrations all together. Most parades will take place as planned, although many towns will provide extra shaded areas along parade routes. Lots of street carnivals will offer games, face-painting, food and entertainment. People will be able to grab a big turkey leg and tap their toes to everything from patriotic songs to country to rock music.
Politicians at all levels will get in on the act, as well. Several will thump backs, pump hands and hug babies at community celebrations. Many will stump from well-placed booths, glad-handing and distributing campaign literature. Some might even get to “speech-ify.”
Many will celebrate — and most will be proud that they live in a free country.
I wish religious freedom could be celebrated as visibly. First, though, all Americans would have to recognize that freedom. While we claim First Amendment rights, sometimes we fail to recognize them for others. We would have to accept that those who do not agree with us have the right to pursue their faith.
Second, we would have to allow all faiths to celebrate together without trying to convert one another. Celebrating religious freedom together with fun, faith and friendship ultimately will open the door to dialog, knowledge and the opportunity to share the Good News.