“Everybody is an American today” Christa Lepore, NJ*

Yesterday we celebrated the 241st birthday of our country. Here in Washington, DC there was a parade, the 37th Annual ‘A Capitol Fourth’ Concert on the lawn of the Capitol with the Beach Boys, The Four Tops, Trace Adkins, Laura Osnes — to name just a few of the artists. Hundreds of thousands of people from all across the country gathered on the National Mall to enjoy the spectacular fireworks. We were all there because we are proud Americans and we love our country. We were democrats, republicans, independents, libertarians or no party at all — a crowd as diverse as the nation.

That pride and love of country was shared in cities and towns large and small from Maine to California as we joined our neighbors, friends and loved ones at family dinners, local parades and community picnics. Yesterday we set aside our differences and celebrated America together.

Unfortunately over the last couple of decades too many of us have come to believe that the America that I love and the America that you love are so different that they cannot coexist. That we cannot even sit together and have a conversation that would lead to understanding one another’s perspective.

Going forward we must find ways that allow us to truly listen to one another and respect our differences in order to find ways to move forward together on the tough issues facing our country. America is big enough and strong enough to embrace our differences as well as the things we share.

At the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), we believe that we, the people, have to stop demonizing and attacking Americans who hold different views and values than our own. Name calling and hateful speech have never solved anything. Democracy works best when people are able to compromise to reach the common good.

Let’s carry over the spirit of the 4th of July to the rest of the year, expand Christa’s quote and make sure that everybody is an American every day.

*Washington Post, 7/5/17

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