My father was an American, born in the United States; my mother, likewise, is an American citizen by birth.
I was born on the island of Malta, by jus sanguinis I am an American citizen by birth, like my parents.
I didn’t set foot on American soil until I was three, and for the next 13 years I only saw America one month out of every twelve, when the company my father worked for made him take his annual four weeks vacation.
My siblings and I grew up in Africa, and the Middle East. We have seen poverty — the poverty where mothers make cold-blooded decisions about which child to sell so that she can feed the rest of her children.
America’s poor enjoy a level of comfort that is the envy of the well-off in Africa.
My brother and sister an I have seen repression — we have seen the crushing of the Ibo people (and we saw how the Ibo people treated their own ohu and osu); the ‘Years Of Lead’ in Morocco aren’t a mystery to us; we weren’t there when the Gukurahundi swept through Matabeleland, but we knew some who disappeared; we saw the comfortable contempt of the Emiratis for the Filipino and Baluchi; and we have close personal experience with the casual repressive brutality of those cultures and many others.
America’s people enjoy a freedom from brutality and repression that is unimaginable for most of the rest of the planet.
Is America perfect? Of course not, but it is the closest thing to it that we will find this side of the grave.
We have a media designed to amplify the worst things that happen in our society — today we should ignore them.
We have a social media that brings out the worst aspects of us — today we should ignore it.
We have professional agitators who stir up strife for political gain, or social status — today we should ignore them.
Today is the day to remember that we are the heirs of a glorious experiment; today is the day to hold our heads high, and to offer a burger, soda and a handshake to our neighbors whom we may not see eye-to-eye with, but who are still Americans.
Today is the day to set all else aside and just … be American.
Happy Independence Day.