On the 4th of July, I celebrate the promise of America. It’s an opportunity to take an honest look at where we as a nation have miserably failed in the past, where we are still a work in progress, where we have spectacularly succeeded, and how we can live up to the promise of becoming so much more.

Pointing out what is wrong with our nation is the most patriotic thing we can do, for it is when we pause to reflect on our failings that we are able to learn from our mistakes and truly become a more perfect Union.

Until we acknowledge the contradiction of founding our country on the principles of freedom while enslaving people for our economic gain and being willing to see how that system of white privilege and supremacy is still alive and well; until we see the humanity of people fleeing violence, oppression, and poverty for a better life in our country and welcome them with open arms instead of tearing apart their families and imprisoning their children in cages; until we have the courage to see our darkness, we cannot fully celebrate or embody the ideals of who we strive to be as a nation that embraces and promotes freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for all.

Don’t forget that democracy, and indeed, the United States herself, is only an experiment — and how we hold this precious idea of who we are must match the actions of how we behave if we truly want to be great. God bless us all and our messy process of becoming our best selves. We can be so much more. Let us rise to the occasion.