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Independence Means Hope

While enjoying an evening walk with my dog Bear this weekend, I passed a home where a young family was out celebrating July 4 with firecrackers and other annoying explosives. My first reaction was negative because as an older mom I thought their kids were too young for such shenanigans. But, something else dawned on me. A year ago, that house was an empty foreclosure. Now, it is a home for a young, hope-filled family with new flowers planted and toys in the yard.

During my walks with Bear over the years, I have passed quite a few homes that have fell victim to families not being able to make mortgage payments. The high number of foreclosures in our neighborhood was a pre-curser for the current mortgage crisis.

Most of us were first-time homebuyers when we moved to the neighborhood over ten years ago. So adjusting to all of that new financial responsibility was bound to create a few casualties.

Seeing that family was a sign of hope for my neighborhood. Several homes that were empty just a year ago are now filled with families making memories and making plans for a bright future.

However, despite any good news that may happen to the family next door, we are in the midst of a national anxiety attack according to media polls. A recent Pew Research Center survey says that over sixty-eight percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

The same study says Americans are more pessimistic about the government's ability to solve problems than they were in 1974 which was at the height of Watergate scandal and the end of the Vietnam War.

Yikes! We should take a collective cleansing breathe. If I recall correctly, we the people--are the government. We cannot keep blaming politicians since we are the ones that elect them. We have to take responsibility for the political and public policy choices we have made in this country over the past 30 years.

The reason our country is struggling is in 250 million bathroom mirrors. Love of our country, with all its warts, means adjusting to a new kind of patriotism. We have to be willing to education ourselves beyond our political comfort zones. This means taking our heads out of the sand to read more, listen more and--think more about where we want our country to be 10 years from now. Then we can really begin to hold our elected officials accountable for choices they make.

Sure, we are struggling with high gas and food prices and other economic troubles. But I believe the future is brighter than what we have all been feeling lately. If we really reflect on the meaning of July 4, we will remember that our country was built on tackling impossible problems, overcoming adversity with hard work, and creating new beginnings.

I saw a new beginning for a family during my Independence Day walk in my neighborhood that gave me hope. I bet if you look hard enough, there are some new beginnings in your neighborhood too.