Happy Independence Day everyone!  Hopefully you’re in the process of lighting up those barbeque grills, telling your kids that they can’t play with the sparklers until its dark outside, and packing up your coolers to go see some awesome fireworks.  That’s what Independence Day is all about; being with your loved ones and celebrating the birth of our nation.

So once again, I say happy 4th of July everyone.  Just be sure to be responsible on the way home since there will be police checkpoints everywhere tonight.

While I still have your attention though, I couldn’t help but bring up some current events that has really bothered me lately.  The Charleston shooter Dylan Roof trying to start a race war, and the amazing message of love from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  The landmark passing of gay marriage and the arguments that it’s created.  The demands for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag.  Or Donald Trump’s demand to secure the Mexican borders from rapists, drug dealers and murderers.
Lately, it’s been one rant after another…and they are all focused on stripping away our individual Independence.

I am proud to say that I’m a happily married white male heterosexual Christian that was born and raised in the United States, and I respect the heck out of our forefathers for the liberties we were given.  By law, we can say and do almost anything in our pursuit to find happiness in this country, and I am a firm believer in pro-choice for virtually every political hot topic you can name.  That’s what the United States has always been about- the right to choose and live free.
Then again, we are expected to be “politically correct,” even when it goes against everything we’ve been raised to believe.  Take gay marriage, for example…I am thrilled that homosexuals can now form a lasting union in the eyes of the law.  I believe that the spirit of the constitution was meant to grant these rights to all Americans, and it’s about time that the government got this one right.  And it’s even more important for our nation because it’s establishing a right for a minority voice.

At the same time, however, my Christian upbringing tells me that it’s a sinful lifestyle.  I am against homosexuality because my God commands me to be, but I am certainly not against homosexuals.  Every single one of us is a sinner and the Bible never once says to hate those living in sin…it actually says the exact opposite.  We’re supposed to love everyone and try to help them, even if we disagree with their lifestyles.

You know who else thought that equality wasn’t the way to go?  Hitler.  Napoleon.  Stalin.  Genghis Khan.  Kim Jong-um.  Very, very bad people.

When we look at the other side of the coin though, people like Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Confucius and Thomas Jefferson taught the exact opposite- they wanted real equality.  That’s the kind that can only exist when everyone has an even playing field and NOBODY is told that their views do not matter.  Yet that’s what we do every single day on TV, through the media and every outlet we can think of…we tell others why what we believe is more important than everyone else around us.  Folks, that’s just hate and racism…no matter how nicely you sugar-coat it.

Until our leaders begin to accept that simple truth, organizations like the NAACP and the LGBT will continue to be just as racist as the KKK.  But who’s right and who’s wrong?  It really doesn’t matter if we’re only going to focus on our personal goals and say the heck with everyone else.

NYC Independence DayAs a country, we are more divided than ever before because of our freedoms, and we often use it as an excuse to not even consider opposing viewpoints.  By definition, that makes those types of people a racist, a communist and about a dozen other words I will not use here- but it’s 100% true nonetheless.  We all tend to forget that there can be a middle-ground where everyone’s beliefs are respected…even if they’re not accepted as a popular viewpoint.

Just remember, as Americans we are all granted equal rights to define our own little slice of happiness.  But if you don’t stop and consider all viewpoints before passing judgement, then you’re making our Constitution just a little bit less powerful every time.  And while it’s your right to do so, I would hope that we are better than that as a nation.

So as you celebrate your Independence tonight, I want you to do one very important thing for me.  Take a look around you and see how diverse we are as a nation.  As those colorful fireworks explode over your head, remember that it was a long, hard road to arrive at where we are today.  And the path forward will likely be even harder still, but it’s not too late for you to be a champion for America.

It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, black, brown or white, Republican or Democrat, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Muslim…you can do a little better to respect the viewpoints of others around you.  That’s the principle that this amazing nation was formed on, and that’s what makes it the most incredible country on the planet.

So the next time you disagree about politics, do what those brave men and women at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church chose to do- let love conquer hate and put a stop to this senseless racism among us.  Have a great Fourth of July everyone.

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