Looking Back to Move Forward — 5 ways to safely create meaning this Independence Day

by Ariela Paulsen
Looking Back to Move Forward — 5 ways to safely create meaning this Independence Day

What a strange time to be celebrating Independence Day!  COVID-19 is not only still present, but rapidly increasing in many states.  Many communities are grappling with social and racial unrest.  Landmarks and symbols of American history are being reevaluated with the lens of the racism and genocides they represent.  Independence, the very value we celebrate every July, is a significant contributor to why the US is so far behind other countries in controlling the pandemic.  So… what should we do this year?

Here are 5 ways you can safely create meaning this Independence Day:

1. Keep it Socially Distanced

For starters, we all need to practice interdependence this year, in our attempts to keep our communities safe.  If you do choose to host or attend a party, practice social distancing — keep all gatherings outdoors, with enough space for people to keep 6 feet apart.  Be mindful of how food is prepared and served.  And of course, when you’re not actively eating, wear masks!

In need of masks for yourself or loved ones?  Check out our new Mighty Mask

2. Look Inward

As someone who struggles to celebrate in the ways that healthy people tend to, I have always looked for other ways to find meaning on holidays.  Why do we have holidays in the first place?  They are moments to take a beat, to separate ourselves from the routines we get stuck in, and reflect on values or milestones.

Let’s use July 4th this year as an opportunity to look inward.  What is our role to play in our communities and society as a whole?  What values do we care about?  

3. Reflect Outward

It’s not just about us.  What do we want for the people and communities around us?  What do we want America to stand for, and what actions can we take this year to bring our country closer to that goal?  

4. Set Aside Time for Learning

Let’s learn about our history — did all Americans gain their freedom in 1776?  Take a minute to research Juneteenth, the day black slaves in America finally learned of their independence.  Read Christopher Columbus’s journal entries.  Explore what COVID-19 has been like for Black and Indiginous communities, and what the governmental response has been for reservations.  We can’t make change if we don’t know the facts!

5. Create Dialogue

Let’s use this holiday to open up respectful — but meaningful — discussions with the people we live with and care about.  

Worried about these discussions being challenging?  Check out our guide to tough conversations.

In writing this, we looked back to last year’s blogs, and boy are we living in a different world today!  That being said, our July 4th guide last year was all about how to take care of your needs and enable others to take care of themselves as well.  Our Father’s Day guide discussed how to be more inclusive of others, and paying attention to your privilege as it relates to ableism.  I look forward to taking this a step further this year, in analyzing my many forms of privilege and intersectionality, and figuring out what I — and what we — can do better for the years to come.  

It is in this spirit of the holiday that, for the rest of July, we will be sharing our thoughts and resources for learning and self-reflection.

Want to see more like this?  Email listenup@mightywell.com to sign up for our emails, and be notified about future articles.  Or join our Friends in the Fight facebook group to be part of the conversation!

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