Happy Independence Day, America.

We’re all going to celebrate tonight, but I have to admit, it almost feels contradictory. Why bother toasting our independence when more Americans than ever before seem eager to live completely dependent lifestyles? The fallout of the Hobby Lobby ruling this week was a sadly predictable example of this. Millions of Americans are furious – outraged even – that government cannot force employers to pay employees for the various accessories they want to use during sexual intercourse.

Can you imagine having to pay out of pocket for such things? Quelle horreur!

Those around the globe suffering under the heavy hand of real, legitimate oppression are collectively rolling their eyes. No wonder children are desperately risking life and limb to cross our borders – we’ve got what the kids refer to these days as first world problems.

I don’t mean to minimize the serious problems facing the nation today. They are very real and threaten our social and economic stability. But on this Fourth of July, I don’t want to spend more time running down the laundry list of eroding freedoms. You know the score. What’s not always presented, however, is the solution.

America is divided. The partisan fracture has become so gaping we can’t even see each other anymore. It used to be we could make our arguments on how to better America, let the chips fall where they may, then head home united as Americans. The attacks on 9/11 briefly restored that sense of we’re all in this together. But that was short lived. Now it’s back to the routine game playing and name calling – hatemonger, racist, moron, sexist, and so forth. Out of all the problems we face, none is more pressing than this. A nation divided against itself cannot stand.

The good news: We can solve this one on our own. We don’t have to call any switchboards or sign any petitions. All we have to do is act – but it’s easier said than done. You will have to admit you were wrong about a few things. I’ve done so myself, and it is humbling. If you look but can’t find the log in your own eye, well, you aren’t looking hard enough.

I’ve been here at the ranch for the better part of two weeks now. I see things more clearly here. I see things the way they ought to be. I see the solution. Is it perfect here? Nope. There are disagreements between the locals just like anywhere else – humans, after all, are not created as uniform robots with no variation. We are wonderfully and fearfully made unique – no two are the same.

The measure of a man is not what level of education he has achieved, the economic ‘class’ he falls in, or whether or not he is liberal or conservative. It is in how he treats his wife, his family, and complete strangers. It is in what he does when he thinks no one is looking. It is in how he handles adversity and stress. It is in his honesty, his work ethic, his charity, and his willingness to forgive.

We have distanced ourselves from these truths. We have allowed our differences to be used against us, not for us. Our differences have always made us stronger because it forced us to consider new things or look at something in a totally different way. Challenging our own long held beliefs is what makes it possible for us to move forward, while conformity of thought leads to dark ages.

In the coming weeks and months, I am going to focus on the things that we have in common. We’ll still debate our differences, but the values and principles people of all spectrums share will take center stage.

On this Independence Day, let us not only celebrate the freedoms handed down to us by our forefathers. Let’s celebrate the differences those freedoms helped create, bury our pride, and find those places where we can come together as Americans.

It is the only way forward. It is the way out.

Laus Deo,

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