Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cynicism Has Never Set The World On Fire









Why bother celebrating the Fourth of July, our country and its achievements, given our nation's warts and flaws? How can we justify marking its anniversary, "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," as it were? After all, wouldn't the world be better off if we spent the day in mourning and shame, "[s]itting at home thinking about how dissatisfied [we are] with [our] country and how all that money spent on fireworks [s]hould be spent on food and AIDS medicine for Africa"?

My answer is this:

Our Future

These feet have a future, a potential, a path to find and follow and forge, with heart and hope and pride. These feet are privileged, yes, by virtue of birth in this nation, and no more precious or deserving of every opportunity in life than those belonging to children anywhere and everywhere else in the world. But stamping out awe and wonder, prescribing pessimism and cynicism, and sowing shame and loathing of self or country as a prism through which to approach life won't set our children on the path toward generosity of heart, mind and imagination. These attitudes and mindsets don't grow compassion, tolerance, wisdom, inspiration or commitment outside the smallest of spheres. They certainly have never solved a single disease or ill in this world, and they never will.

Far better to teach our children to light a candle--or even a whole fireworks display once in a while--rather than to sit around and curse the darkness. Because if, in the end, out of cynicism and pessimism, they choose to tread the latter path, who's supposed to find the route to that "better future" for those who truly have reason to lack optimism?