A Great Vacation Idea

Leading up to the July 4th holiday, several friends told me they were traveling into America’s heartland for the week. There they would undoubtedly encounter people whose political beliefs were the polar opposite of their own. My own family vacation to Lake Erie meant that I would share both their predicament and trepidation. 
Yet there is something uniquely apolitical about how Americans celebrate July 4th

In our case, this included the traditional swimming, hot dogs and fireworks. But it was also marked by an impromptu parade within the park where our cabin was located. Golf carts and bicycles lined up at 11:00AM sharp. They were decorated with the stars and stripes – on banners and balloons.  The marchers ranged from age 6 to 60.  Patriotic music swelled from a golf cart in the middle of the procession whose wheels were adorned with red, white and blue paper plates as hubcaps. The parade commenced with the entire group reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Later that evening, we joined local townspeople for fireworks along the lake. I would be lying if I didn’t make snap judgments about their political beliefs, education and health, based solely on their appearance. A fact that embarrasses me – especially considering how gracious and polite every person I met was and that I was the visitor in their hometown.
Among the many flag themed t-shirts was one that read “Shoot Your Local Heroin Dealer.”  Later I would learn that the number of opioid related deaths has tripled in this county over the last six years. Another sign of this region struggles was an unemployment rate that is almost double the national average.
The conversations I did have about politics during my week away from the trappings of the New York Times and nightly news were unusually civil.

Even when I talked to members of my family whose beliefs often clash with my own – there seemed more room for common ground than previous years.  Perhaps born out of a shared desire for a country we can all be proud off.
During the trip, my father-in-law introduced me to the Luke Bryan song “Most People Are Good.” This country tune includes both a homage to Friday night football and lyrics that support gay marriage. Its chorus ends with:

I believe most people are good.
I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks

It’s a sentiment I share but in the din of negative news forget from time to time.  Fortunately, a vacation out of my bubble was all the reminder I needed.

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