A "Happy 4th of July" email is going viral in certain circles on the Internet. It was sent to me by two different family members. Opening it, I scrolled past a cartoon figure who was wearing the American flag as a baseball cap turned backward on his head.
Next came a pledge of allegiance to the flag with the phrase "One Nation Under God" underlined for emphasis. Then: a cartoon warship flashing bombs, images of an all white male Army -- including one of a soldier carrying a buddy off the battlefield -- and finally, a Pillsbury Doughboy-type white toddler at bedside, eyes closed, hands clasped in prayer. A Tea Party America?
I see a different America. My America has people in it who have names like Mohammed, Sharif, Barack, Denzel, Queen Latifah and Sonia Sotomayor.
My America has people in it who chant their prayers, drum them, do them in a silent meditation, or say them out loud in a church or synagogue. They may fold their hands together to signify the beginning of a Sun Salutation or extend them forward as they face toward Mecca. They may spend Sunday mornings at a movement mass, or do a walking meditation along a river trail.
Americans I know dance salsa, tango, African dance and listen to music with a world beat. They eat fried chicken, apple pie, tacos, burritos, falafels and kubidah, an Iranian sandwich wrap.
The ties that bind the Fourth of July together for me are universal constants. These include fireworks displays and holiday gatherings with friends and family to celebrate American liberty and freedom as defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Images of the military depicted in the viral email I was sent, simply remind me of a recent poll by The Military Times of active duty service members. Poll results showed political party affiliation has fallen sharply in active duty military personnel.
An exclusive survey of some 1,800 active-duty troops by The Military Times shows the percentage of self-identified Republicans has decreased by one-third since 2004, from 60 percent to 41 percent, while the percentage of self-identified independents has nearly doubled to 32 percent during the same period.
This sharp reversal of a 30-year trend toward the "Republicanization" of the U.S. military, as LA Times reporter Rosa Brooks calls it, and increases in independent voters, could mark a sea change in the nature of public debates about national security issues. It could make us rethink "the war that makes us poor," as Florida's Congressional Rep. Alan Grayson describes the Afghanistan war.
All volunteer, has the U.S. military become a mercenary military infused with an evangelical Christian influence? The implications of this Christian influence were the focus of a 2008 U.S. Army document entitled "Strategic Implications of American Millennialism." It has become a military where, some say, the bond between soldiers is stronger than their desire to serve their nation.
This Fourth of July, I see a different America emerging. It is an America linked together by shared values that transcend ethnic or religious groups, neighborhoods and national borders. Do you see it too?
Alexia Parks is author of Parkinomics, an Amazon business and motivational bestseller. It offers 8 great ways to thrive in the New Economy for the individual who wants to lead a life of "meaning, prosperity, and purpose." Parkinomics includes ideas and links to resources.
Alexia Parks offers workshops and online tele-seminars for people in transition to jobs in the New Economy. See: AlexiaParks.com. With 61 percent of people wanting to be their own boss, she shows how to tap into your skills and passion to create your DREAM job.