Today is America’s independence day, the day she achieved her liberty from England. There will be fireworks, wishes, and general good cheer. I’ve lived in the United States for over twelve years now. I came here a few days before I turned 22 and have made this my home. Not having grown up here or having an emotional attachment to either the independence day or childhood memories of watching fireworks, I would always struggle with getting into the spirit of the 4th. I’d wonder if it’s because this is not *my* country? Is it because I’m not a citizen? Is it because I didn’t grow up here? Is a part of me unwilling to celebrate because of the immigration struggles I continue to go through despite being a productive, educated, and law-abiding resident?
While some of those are true to some extent, the real reason I believe is that I was attached to the notion that I need to celebrate America, the country’s independence from her rulers. Recently, while going through another frustrating moment in my long battle with the immigration laws here, I questioned why I crossed the great pacific ocean and moved here as a young boy and continued to contribute to this nation’s development and progress vs my birth place. I love India, where I grew up, and do care much about her progress and development. Why then am I here?
I think I’ve found my answer to this tiny existential crisis. America, in my humble opinion, is not simply a nation. It is more than that. It is an idea. It is an ideal. There is no place, no country elsewhere on this planet that, as a whole, carries the spirit that America does. It is the closest version of utopia (to the extent utopia exists) on earth where freedom, justice, and the opportunity to make something worthwhile of yourself are seen as basic requirements, not optional. No other country is home to such a diverse population who have all, in one way or another, positively contributed over generations to America’s progress.
So, on this fourth, raise a glass to the liberty that gave birth to this idea.