We are in a period of exceptional turmoil. Tempers are boiling, divisions widening, cooperation evaporating. Everyone seems to be mad at everybody. How do we fix this?
Start small. When disagreements are intense, search first for points of agreement. So let’s try to find some sort of common ground, even if relatively minor and mundane.
How about this? Weekends and holidays are good. Long holiday weekends even better. Hardly an earth-shattering observation, but this small bit of consensus can serve as a foundation for something worthwhile and lasting.
Independence Day (Fourth of July) is rightfully a major national holiday. However, it has two intrinsic problems. First, it is a “fixed date” holiday, meaning when it falls in the middle of the week it’s only a one-day holiday — no long weekend. Second, and more importantly, some Americans, understandably and justifiably, “may” lack whole-hearted enthusiasm for this particular holiday.
After all, the 1776 Declaration of American Independence marked the beginning of the end of independence for hundreds of Native tribes. Additionally, the many thousands of Africans kidnapped and forcibly brought to America as slaves had to endure 90 more years of inhumane suffering before regaining their freedom and individual independence. And lastly, women had to wait another century and a half before winning political equality.
These enormous wrongs cannot be undone, but they can, and should, be formally acknowledged. Doing so during the Fourth of July holiday would be naturally appropriate.
Here’s the proposal. Build a five-day super weekend around the Fourth of July by adding three new official national holidays: Native American Day, African American Day and Women’s Equality Day. Subtitle these three new holidays: Respect Day, Freedom Day and Political Equality Day.
While each of these three wronged groups already have their specific “day,” none are official national holidays. Moving and combining them with Independence Day would create on All-American national holiday. Doing this would be a cleansing act of national unity.
Depending on which day of the week the Fourth falls, this super weekend would run from Thursday through Monday, Friday through Tuesday, or Saturday through Wednesday. We can call this new, restructured holiday the “Great All-American Summer Weekend.”
Each of us is individually unique in very way but on — and that is in importance. You are not more important than me; I am not more important than you. We are all equally important. As equally important American beings, each and every one of us is entitled to respect, liberty, political equality and independence.
Creating the Great All-American Summer Weekend would be a start. We have nothing to lose in doing this and possibly much to gain. We, the people, are ultimately in charge. Let’ do it.
• FINLEY GOSLIN lives in Brookings.