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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy birthday America, on this strange and sad 244th celebration.

I start by saying to my fellow Americans are not my enemies. They are all my brothers and sisters in what is the longest experiment in self-governance in the history of the world.

I add that not everything is about politics – in fact virtually nothing is.

Please do this experiment: Extend your arms out to the left and right and turn in a little circle. Pay attention to what you feel and what you see and what you hear.

That’s about all you can control so that’s all you should really worry about.

Whomever holds the White House, the Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court or state legislatures, none of that changes what you connect with in your daily lives.

The president has no outcome on how much I love my daughter or mother. Congress has no say in the coldness of my beer. State legislators have no say in my ugly, misshapen beard. (Note: the beard has grown long and supple enough so that it occasionally catches beer that has somehow missed my mouth. No judgment. Just saying.)

Loving those close to me strikes me as the most important thing I can do.

Treating friends and colleagues with love lacking in judgment is something I can control and that matters.

Letting go of dislike and hatred and a closed mind, I can do those things.

I can greet others with smile – or in its place during these strange times when no one can see my smile – a wave, a thumbs-up sign, two fingers held aloft suggesting peace.

Assuredly, we have problems to tackle as a country in this experimentation. The narrative of this great country – and it is great – has never been straight or easy or even great. We’ve screwed up countless times and then failed again the same way.

But we shall fix nothing with hatred.

So might I mention something I never thought I’d address when I wrote my first column in high school in 1982?

Face masks.

Those are not political statements. They are a proven and easy way – along with social distancing – to fight this very real pandemic.

It’s not about “the government” or “the media” or “control.”

Wearing is about loving yourself and others.

America is not alone in the pandemic and so we can see from other countries that have substantially reduced COVID-19 outbreaks that ninety-nine cent masks can help.

No politics here. Do I care enough about myself and others to make the right decision? It’s about respect.

And that’s an American decision. Taking care of our fellow Americans.

Happy Fourth all.

Peace and love and face masks unto you my brothers and sisters.


  1. I won't try to mess with what you've said here by trying to elaborate or piggy-back off from it... suffice it to say... words VERY WELL spoken... beyond that... I'm speechless Thanks Rich

  2. Former English teacher:

    "I start by saying to my fellow Americans are not my enemies."

    Whomever holds the White House

    I can greet others with smile

  3. I knew what you meant with those typos, so I won't go all red own on proof pages. Here's why I write right now: Surely (slow pitch for a Rich wisenhiemer remark about Shirley) everyone has SOMEONE for whom they ought to wear a mask.