Opinion: Happy birthday, USA

Commentary by Terry Anker

For 241 years old, you look terrific. Sure, you are not as young as you used to be. The knees may creak a bit and you may not be quite as far ahead in the race as you once were. But in many ways, you are at the top of your game. Your economic might is renown. You’ve worked hard to educate and provide for your family – and helped with the lives of scores of others not able to do it themselves. Maybe you’d do a few things different if you had it to do all over again, but mostly it is turning out OK.  Still, times are changing. And despite occasional resistance, you are changing with them.

Life milestones cause us to pause and take stock. We think about our past decisions. We think about where we sit in relation to our hopes, dreams and, honestly, to our high school nemesis! Are we falling behind, keeping up, or surging ahead? Yet mostly, the anniversaries push us to consider the future – to adjust and course-correct.  Anyone who has taken a trip or two around the sun will tell that regret accomplishes little unless it guides us to pursue a new and better tact. Isn’t the best energy spent investing in a bright future rather than obsessing on an imperfect past?

Although most agree that our own nation is no longer adolescent, it is impossible to know where we might be along the way. Young family? Middle-aged? Twilight?  Even as pundits debate whether the country is on or off track, we might ask ourselves the same questions. Are we at peace with our past? More important, do we have a plan to advance? Time only moves in one direction – forward.

Happy Birthday, USA. We hope it is a good one.

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