Tag Archives: fourth of july

Born in the U.S.A.


On this American birthday I salute jazz music, barbecue, college sports, the Internet, equal rights, airplanes, Coca-Cola, national parks, interstate highways, blue jeans, bacon cheeseburgers, free speech, pickup trucks, iced beverages, and after a couple of unhappy moments on recent international trips, let us also raise our glass of Pepto Bismol in honor of plentiful supplies of toilet paper.  Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing!

There is a flip side to the U.S. of A., too, including massive waste, mass incarceration, persistent racism, indebtedness, overconsumption, and reality television, but c’mon, it’s her birthday.

My particular faith evolution has apparently left me less patriotic than many of my fellow Americans.  I choose to live reconciled to all people regardless of national identity and have a particular aversion to any version of an us versus them mentality, which most definitely includes the ugly definition of American exceptionalism.

But this is inescapably my country.  It is where I was born, and it has shaped me in unmistakable ways.  Today, I pause to celebrate the good in it and recommit to fight against the bad in it.

Happy Fourth of July.


Hot Topic Fireworks and the Fourth of July

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” – Mark Twain

That Mark Twain is such a goof.

I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to spend time with a leadership coach over the past few months thanks to a fellowship through Pepperdine University, but our time together is coming to an end. During our penultimate phone conversation, my coach asked if there was anything else that I would like to discuss, and I had to confess that I am now the best leader in world history and have nothing left to learn.

Why the sudden laughter?

You can picture it, I’m sure: a long, deep, fascinating conversation with a wise friend. You are tired and sleepy and have to get up early the next morning, when suddenly an entirely new and wonderful conversation topic emerges and… Well, you just have to call it a night. As much as you would like to go down that conversation road, you simply don’t have the time or energy to invest and have to cut it off before it gets started. Reluctantly.

That is what I offered my coach. Sure, there is much to discuss, but we have neither the time nor the energy to invest and we must simply call it a night. Reluctantly.

This is how I feel in general this Fourth of July. We celebrate the United States of America this holiday weekend, and I am simply unable to imagine opening the door on any of the spectacularly important and touchy conversations that stand before us. Not because I do not care. Not because I do not have thoughts. Not even because I am exhausted by the very prospect, although I am.

Here is why: It takes so much time to love and listen and build the relationship with a single person to simply begin to understand the other well enough to just get started on any of the topics. It is three in the morning, and we have talked all night, and I have to be up at six, and I just have to exercise a teeny bit of self-control.

(This isn’t very inspirational, is it?)

Okay, let me at it this way: Be kind to everyone. Invest in deep relationships with a few. Listen a lot. Speak slowly and carefully with patience and grace. And get some rest because this is going to take some serious time.

And have a great holiday weekend.