If July 4 celebrates the American dream, let July 5 remind us to always seek to be better

By Erin Jones

I didn’t post anything yesterday for a reason...

I was not trying to dampen anyone’s celebration of the 4th or offend anyone on a day that has become set aside as “holy” by some in this nation. However, that being said, independence is not something I celebrate on the 4th.

For those who would say this is the greatest nation in the earth, I would respond by asking, “Which other nations have you visited?”

Are there great things about this nation? YES.

I do have incredible freedoms here — to choose where to live and eat, to have my own business, to travel, to speak freely, to worship God in the ways I choose — AND there is also much about which we should not be proud but should be reflective, concerned, upset... and taking action.

Who remains oppressed and underserved or unserved in this country?

How are we addressing the needs of our most vulnerable — war veterans, mentally ill, children?

That is not even to mention immigrants... especially those at the border (I’ve got thoughts, but that’s for another post).

To those who would say, “Go somewhere else, then, if you don’t like it here,” I say, “That’s not how I roll.”

I believe in engaging to improve those things about which I have the greatest critique. This is exactly why I ran for OSPI — not because I wanted to be a politician.

My entire teaching career in this state was in schools deemed “failing” by the feds and state. I made a choice to teach in places that contained incredible beauty few could see, where children didn’t lack abilities but access to respires and support. I chose to work in places that needed a different kind of belief system, a desire to press in, a willingness to stay and do extra (beyond paid work hours), outside-the-box thinking.

This is why I stay in the country of my birth. I believe I was born here and raised elsewhere around different experiences and perspectives for a reason. I am NOT the answer, but I want to be part of the answer to making this nation the best version of itself.

We are far from that place.

If you have not yet read “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” by Frederick Douglass, I would encourage a read. We may not have slavery in the ways we used to, but so much of what he said then resonates today.

His speech is intense.

His speech is long and filled with complex language.

It is well worth the read.

Here, in the words of Frederick Douglass, is how many of my friends likely felt about yesterday’s celebrations:

“Your celebration is a sham. Your national greatness? Swelling vanity. Your sounds of rejoicing are empty, heartless. Your shouts of liberty and equality? Hollow mockery. A thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”

May we always seek to be better.