Whether I’m feeling particularly patriotic on Independence Day in the United States depends on a number of factors. For one, my homeland is always Israel, so although I was born and raised in America, Independence Day isn’t as big a deal for me as it is for others. Also, this country has its problems, and how those problems are being handled and who’s handling them can decide whether or not I want to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance or if I just wish it would be over so we can get on with the football game.

However this July 4th I’m feeling particularly proud. President Obama’s still in office, and while he’s not the perfect President (who is?), he’s a lot better than some other aspiring executive leaders I could name (but I won’t because I’m polite that way). Also, the Supreme Court (probably the most popular branch of our federal government) said last week that gay marriage must be recognized by the federal government, which means that I can now work for my own state of Ohio to adopt the practice. Not easy, considering that the rural communities are very conservative. But heck, Columbus is the LGBT capital of the Midwest, so that’s something to count in our favor.

And although the United States has some definite problems, including inequality, hungry children, an economy that’s constantly on the edge of another recession (seems like it, anyway), we’re a lot better off than some other nations in the world. In Egypt,  Morsi was ousted from the Presidency despite being democratically elected, and now key members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s party, are being arrested. While I don’t approve of the Muslim Brotherhood’s policy towards Israel, America, and religion and government, I can’t help but detect a whiff of dictatorship rising from all this.

And if you go northeast to Syria, you’ll see people still fighting after several years just to gain the right to even experiment with democracy. Meanwhile hundreds die everyday, and no meaningful action has been taken to quell the fighting.

And in other nations, democracy is marred by powerful interests, religious intrusion, rampant corruption, and several other problems. It makes me glad that I’m able to live in a nation where, at the very least, I have rights and access to things I desperately need to survive, such as food, water, shelter, and healthcare. I also have a shot at an education and maybe a job afterwards. And while I have all these things, I can work to fight for others who don’t have the same rights as me, both at home and abroad.

That’s something to be proud of, especially when strides are being made to rectify that inequality. Not many strides, but some good ones. And while I celebrate today, I’ll work to keep these strides coming tomorrow.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

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