Opening Words from Sun. June 30 by Kara Hershberger

Good Morning and hello again. It’s been a few months since I last gave opening words. I’m hoping at this rate to be up here at least three more times this year. There will be a tip jar next time so you can show your true appreciation.

Tomorrow is the start of our nation’s birthday month. I think like everyone here I have mixed feelings about Independence day. I could be wrong though, maybe some of you are really into celebrating the accomplishments of old white male slave owners with loud explosions and hot dogs. For many years Independence day was one of my favorite holidays because I firmly believed in the dream of this country. The version of the dream that I believed in was one of fairness, equity, and justice for all. I believed that America was better because of her diversity in geography, ethnicity, and thought.

As I’ve grown older I’ve had to reconcile what our nation is with where our nation came from. We have a bloody past. We have done so many things wrong in so many different ways. For example, I’m pretty sure someone in America invented jorts. That’s jean shorts for those of you that don’t know what jorts are. No offense to those of you that enjoy them, but I stand by my opinion that that was not our finest hour. Honestly, the list of our mistakes is too long and sad to enumerate today. But, even after ruminating about all the wrongs in the past I still have hope for us, collectively. For America. Or, ‘Merica as I like to call her.

I still have hope for us because Americans are some of the most stubborn, hardheaded, and dare I say, annoying people on the planet. Many Americans, when faced with hardship, are reluctant to give in to petty haters that look down upon them and think they can’t accomplish their goals. Just this year I attended a platform given by a climate scientist who refused to give up the fight against climate change. She explained that change for the better was absolutely possible, and that science had solved many problems over the past century with collaboration and cooperation.

I don’t want to make blanket comparisons between the general population of America and the members and visitors of the Society. However, I feel like it’s safe to say that we may have a few stubborn, hardheaded, and possibly annoying people here on any given Sunday. Annoying people that approach you to engage in any number of conversation topics. Stubborn people that continue to bring up issues and causes that are vitally important to discuss. And hardheaded individuals that keep coming back to you to get your thoughts and opinions on how we can make this place better.

The hard truth about America, and perhaps the Society, is that the constant throughout our history has been change. And change often goes hand in hand with making things better. If you think about it, that’s truly what the 4th of July is – a celebration of change. Granted that change did bring about the displacement and death of millions of native Americans for the gain of the ruling landowner class. But if you just move past that, and focus on the here and now, you realize the change that started on July 4, 1776 also brought us to this room to share in this moment together. It’s with that sentiment that I invite you to sign up for our 4th of July celebration fundraiser. After all, what is more American than appealing to your emotions to get to your wallet?

The fundraising committee would like to invite you to come watch fireworks with us on July 4th at a condo downtown with a beautiful view of the arch. We would love to have you attend so that we can get to know each other better. All proceeds from the event go to the society. Details about the event and how to register are posted on flyers throughout the building. You can also talk to Jo-Ellen Forrest downstairs in the Becker room today after platform to sign up. We’re looking forward to engaging in meaningful conversations with you while enjoying beverages and desserts. Space is limited so please sign up soon if you’re interested in celebrating with us. Thank you for your time..

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.