I wish I could tell you I was standing in a crowded parade line. Waving my red, white and blues. Enjoying every bite of a bad hot dog while singing patriotic songs off-key, of course.

But, alas, I am not. Rather, than shouting prideful hip-hip-hoorays at being a lucky “American,” I am simply savoring a day off the clock. Because, on this day of national meaning, I am of mixed mind as to what that meaning truly is.

“The land of the free and home of the brave.”

I’ll buy that. Sign me up for that. Freedom to choose. Freedom to think. Feel. Be. Love whomever I want to in whatever way we consensually decide. Freedom to speak. Freedom to shine the color of my skin and the language of my tongue, whatever those may be. Freedom to change. Freedom to differentiate and become. And, freedom to live all those choices without ridicule and violence.

And we get to top that rich and luscious freedom pie with bravery? It’s almost too much. As a collective whole, we proclaim courage. Risk. Pushing the envelope. Acting for the greater good despite our fears and anxieties. Going boldly into unknown spaces and making room when there was no room before.

Hell, yeah. I want to live in that country. The land of the free and home of the brave.

But, wait.

I do.

At least, my birth certificate and passport say that I do. Yet, the welcoming and gratuitous energy of this great land is rapidly dimming. We are starting to believe freedom is some limited commodity that can only be possessed by the few who agree to play by the social rules. Difference is not tolerated because the misunderstood Other is deemed threatening. Thus, fear pervades, and doors of homes and hearts shut and lock. We protect rather than open. We use arms to shoot and kill rather than embrace. We react impulsively rather than talk relationally. We assume and judge rather than listen. We proclaim our values with righteous indignation as an adolescent bully in the United Nations school yard.

Such behavior doesn’t proclaim freedom or bravery – values we Americans say we espouse. Rather, it is movement toward rigidity and limitation. Confinement and reticence. Intolerance. Small, not large. Closed, not open.

So, today I am sad, not celebratory. I want to feel pride in the country I reside, yet my mood of the moment is not bringing out the brass band.

But tomorrow, I will return to the clock and the confines of my 20’ x 20’ office space – my small rented square footage of America – where through the art of psychotherapy, I will honor the brave as he/she/they fight for freedom. Freedom to speak, to be, to become. Freedom to love and be loved. Freedom to seek the truth, their truth. All the while applauding the courage required to go into unknown interior lands so that space can be created for liberated living.

That is the land that I love.
Land I will stand beside and guide.
From the mountains.
To the prairies.
To the oceans white with foam.
Our home sweet home.

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