July 4 thankfulness | Letter

The United States of America is like an outer skin for my body. My fleshy skin keeps me protected from harmful contamination. It holds me together. It breathes. I feel it and I feel through it.

I have a U.S. passport, which carries the U.S.A. flag within, so I can get out of my national boundaries and adventure into my international dreams. Wherever I go with my passport, I am a citizen of the U.S.A., and I have protections and vulnerabilities because of this. Because I perceive these protections to so outweigh the vulnerabilities, I am thankful to be a U.S. citizen.

I do not allow myself to be proud of my citizenship or flag, though I am very thankful. I cannot be proud of the flag any more than of having functioning skin. I was born into my skin, and into my nation. Those are gifts to me. I am thankful for the gifts I have received, and for the ones I continue to receive, but I am not proud of these gifts.

I can allow myself pride for my exertions to care for the function-ability of those gifts. I can be thankful for the guided will power within me that allows me to choose to do my works, but I cannot allow myself pride for being guided. I feel guided and protected and I am thankful. One nation under God: I give thanks. One world under God: I give thanks.

We can be thankful for the freedom to choose whether we burn the flag, hang it upside down, for the option to salute and pledge it, or to claim belief in God or not. May this freedom and guidance continue to be available, and may we be thankful for our right to be proud of choosing the correct guidance. Happy Birthday, U.S.A.

Mark C. Billington

Friday Harbor