“What do you want to do for the Fourth?” I asked my husband.
“Cry…perhaps?” he replied.
He was only half-joking.
He is an 11th-generation American, someone whose family made a conscious choice in the 17th century to leave England. Thomas Macy, my husband’s ancestor, was a committed Baptist, so someone who did not conform to the state religion, the Church of England. He would become the first European settler on Nantucket island. (Click here for a blog on modern-day Chilmark, Macy’s village in Wiltshire.)
It’s hardly surprising that Macy’s descendant feels anxiety, even despair in 2022. There have been many challenges faced by our republic since its founding 246 years ago. The issues with which it is confronted today are probably the most severe yet. Some fear that America is up against an existential crisis.
Americans are conscious of this. A recent CBS News poll revealed 72 per cent of Americans believe “our democracy is under threat.” This is also a time of extreme partisanship and societal division. And finally, climate change is (literally) changing the American landscape, with summers becoming hotter and longer even as the US supreme court limits the tools available to the president and the federal executive to tackle it.
As someone recently wrote, “should we be celebrating or grieving this Independence Day?”
For many, the answer may be to throw some bratwurst on the barbecue, warm a bun and eat the whole lot with lemon caraway coleslaw and red, white and blue roast potatoes. (That, dear reader, is our menu!)
And that may not be a bad option, really, at least on the day.
Longer term, not so much.