Happy Birthday America

Maybe I just found the key to being able to truly enter in to Fourth of July celebrations in a way that has eluded me so far.

On Father’s Day I wrote about the apparent American obsession with the father-figure, and connected it to the War of Independence. And here’s my thought:

If America is the “child” in that relationship, and Britain is the “father”, maybe I can approach Independence Day as…

My child’s birthday.

I don’t necessarily like or enjoy everything that my child does. I’m not completely like my child, nor am I expected to be. We’re different people, and that’s ok. I can still celebrate them and their birthday.

And like with a physical child, there was blood and pain on both sides during the birth process, but now there’s a new human in the world. That’s reason for celebration.

The analogy breaks down regarding postnatal care. Perhaps a better one would be the Rite of Passage: the ceremonies some cultures have in which a boy becomes a man.

Very often there’s blood and pain in those, too. It’s a severing of parental authority, a child becoming an adult and taking their place in the world of adults.

The Western world has lost the idea of the Rite of Passage. I’ve seen some attempts to manufacture one, and they look contrived and artificial. But birthdays? Birthdays we have.

So Happy Birthday, America!


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