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Celebrate July 4th the true American way: Openly 

Food for Thought, a culinary series designed to bring together people from a variety of backgrounds over a shared dinner, returns to Colorado Springs this year. The 2019 group launch will take place from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 22 at Library 21C, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. For more visit foodforthoughtcs.org.

God bless America, land that I love …

This week marks the 243rd anniversary of the birth of our nation. And while we could spout platitudes about the “greatest nation,” we won’t. Because while we truly love our country and appreciate immensely the myriad freedoms its governing document provide, we must also be candid: There are plenty of problems facing an America some people think has been made “Great Again.” 

Stand beside her, and guide her …

We face issues involving race, gender, pay inequality, homelessness, poverty and equitable access to quality education. We see the disparities between “have” and “have nots.” It only takes a trip across the “tracks” that are South Circle Drive and East Fountain Boulevard to see the reality of those who must choose between buying fresh food and putting gas in the tank.

Consider the homogeneity of our community’s power brokers, and of their respective politics. Of the nine City Councilors, only two are women and only one, Yolanda Avila, is a person of color; on the El Paso County Board, just Longinos Gonzalez is a person of color; and of the four school districts located within Colorado Springs proper, only one has a woman at the helm — Harrison School District 2’s Wendy Birhanzel serves as co-superintendent with John Rogerson — while just one superintendent, Colorado Springs School District 11’s Michael Thomas, is a person of color. 

That’s not reflective of a community that the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 estimates described as 50.1 percent female and 21.8 percent ethnic minority.

Through the night with the light from above.

We are living in a time of extraordinary division and dissidence, in which everything and everyone from social media to those in the highest levels of governmental influence spew hatred, vitriol and acidic language intended to further drive the division. 

We in the media are not exempt. Whether on TV or radio, it’s easy to find a talking head who will tell you precisely what — and only what — you want to hear. Even this edit board is not guiltless of having a particular bent, although we do base our editorials on facts. 

The simple fact is today’s cultural narrative mandates you choose your party, grab your red or blue jersey in accordance with your side, and huddle tightly to the right or the left of the bell-curve ... the closer to the fringe the better. 

From the mountains, to the prairies …

But the simple fact is, most people aren’t geared toward one extreme or the other. Many of us would reject the Montague vs. Capulet cat fighting in favor of thoughtful dialogue.

A massive Pew study of polarization in America, conducted over 20 years and released in 2014, found that only about 21 percent of respondents clung tightly to the fringes. Clearly, most of the country is capable of seeing the world in terms other than the black-and-white, red vs. blue narrative that is forced daily down our throats.  

Our nation was founded as a melting pot, not one of those segregated platters you find at picnics and in cafeteria lines. 

To the oceans, white with foam …

So what’s the solution? Turn off the television, kill the radio, put down the cell phone, disconnect from social media and have a face-to-face conversation with someone who is not like you. 

Fire up the grill, chill some beverages and invite over the neighbor whose skin color/religion/politics/age/gender/sexual orientation/health habits/marital status does not match yours. Then have an open, honest dialogue. 

Go to a place of worship representative of beliefs different than yours. Or swing into a restaurant with a cuisine you’ve never tried, and open your palate and mind. 

Want to actually make America great again? Try tearing down culturally mandated walls and building bridges instead.  

God bless America, my home sweet home!

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