Hello friends. Welcome to the fourth of July.

Yes, it is indeed Independence Day, one of my all-time favorite days of the year on account of free hot dogs and unabashed bragging on the greatness of America. My fourths have always been equally filled with fireworks, watermelon, block parties, and smug pride in abusing other countries on the internet. America, the Greatest Country In The World, and my homeland.

However, recently, my faith in the U.S. of A has wavered. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not super knowledgeable about the government or political climates, but even I know that something is fishy. And I definitely am not a passionate future politician, but I have noticed a few things amiss in this dear ol’ land of the free. Perhaps a few things I do not agree with – maybe even vehemently disagree with. And these things have really got me down on this particular fourth of July.

It’s kind of hard to be proud of a country that doesn’t seem to be upholding its core values, and it’s really hard to celebrate it. Sure, I could ignore the political origins of the fourth of July and just turn it into another national holiday. I haven’t attended church on Easter in years. Who even knows what Labor Day is about. But there’s something about the fourth that is inextricably tied to celebrating America for me. It’s the one day I have always ignored whatever I don’t like about this country and just celebrated what I do.

This year, though, there is just a lot I don’t like. Probably more than I do. And it’s getting harder and harder to ignore it, when all my news feed ever does is shove the bad stuff in my face. Look at this sobbing child, it yells at me, go ahead and light off your silly sparklers.

I think that’s it, really – in past years, fourth of Julys have been cloaked in willful ignorance, whereas this year it’s surrounded by tangible guilt. I am lucky to have experienced the privileged America where I can ignore all these things that are happening and celebrate a country that has been really good to me for my entire life. But there are more and more people who haven’t had this privilege. And it’s a tough reality to finally face.

There’s really no answer to this. I guess I hoped that, along the way, as I was writing this, I would figure one out. But alas, this has not happened. Besides, even if there is a solution, I am certainly not qualified to give it. My experiences with Independence Days and with America in general are the definition of rose-colored glasses. I picked what I wanted to see, because that’s what my experiences have always been. I’ve never been deported; I’ve never been really afraid of a government official; I’ve never felt threatened by this country. I’ve definitely always known this wasn’t the case for everybody, but before I guess I allowed myself to forget it for one day a year – the fourth of July. And this year I don’t know if I can. Correction – I don’t know if I want to.

I’m not suggesting we all throw a protest this fourth of July – yes, this is a rough patch for America, but don’t burn down the Capitol building. This country has still done some good things, even if they’re hard to focus on right now. And I don’t think that constantly being angry at everything without offering viable solutions is the path to world peace. But I do think that, this year, keep in mind everything that America represents – good and bad.

I have always seen the U.S. through rose-colored glasses on Independence Day so that I can just be proud of my home. I don’t think I will this year. I will still celebrate with watermelon and sparklers and free hot dogs, but I want to be more thoughtful in my blatant nationalism. If nothing else, here is my goal – not to worship the U.S., not to drag it through the mud, but just to remove my own rose-colored glasses.