Opinion: Reflections on the 4th of July

I love the Fourth of July. And from what I saw last Saturday, it is safe to say that I am not the only one who feels that way. I believe that the attendance and excitement were greater this year than in years past at the parade. I even think that the neighborhood fireworks were bigger, louder and more exciting than I have ever seen in an amateur show. In cities across our country, the Declaration of Independence was read in celebration of our independence. Mr. Vandersloot is to be commended for our world-class fireworks.

For one day it seems that everyone in our great nation stands in solidarity that all are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, the next day those thoughts seem to get swept away like the burned-out shells of the fireworks we lit off the night before. How is it that one day we can be celebrating the land of the free and the next we are right back to extremes?

Those unalienable rights declared on July 4, 1776, were pretty vague. What does it mean by the pursuit of happiness? What happens when my pursuit of happiness interferes with yours? I am going to go out on a limb and say that your pursuit of happiness, your life and your liberty should be just as important as mine.

Why didn’t our founders just set out all of the rules right at the beginning? Some might argue it would have made our lives easier if say the Constitution defined English as our official language — it does not. Maybe there would be less arguing if our country had an official mandate on which religions could be practiced within our borders or at the very least what the preferred religion is — there is no such mandate. Certainly, it would be easier if our Constitution set out the specific rules for say marriage and sports eligibility — but it does not.

So how was this supposed to work? I believe that the intent was that we as Americans would work together and compromise. And for many years we did, but that seems to have fallen out of favor today. If you need an example of this, look no further than the past 14 months. The pandemic was a perfect opportunity for us to work together as a country and a community. Yet we were just as polarized in our approach to the illness as we are in our approach to just about everything else.

We cannot enjoy those inalienable rights if we can’t work together. Let’s face it, we are not working together. If we are to continue to thrive as a country, we must get away from the “you” and “me” attitude and back to the idea of “we.”

David Roth is the Legislative District 33 vice chair for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.