I was talking with a lifelong friend the other day. She and I generally cancel out each other’s presidential vote. That diversity of opinion, however doesn’t stop our families from vacationing together every summer in a pristine location where not much divides us besides the choice of a hot dog or hamburger for dinner.

As part of the weeklong festivities, one evening is devoted to Talent Night. Fortunately there’s a lot of it in this group (it’s actually multiple families, not just our two), so there’s some pretty good free entertainment. For years, my friend and I have sung duets as part of the show. One year we were Sonny and Cher, another Johnny and June Carter Cash. We got our kids to do the Mamas and Papas with us. We throw together whatever we can find for costumes and enlist the aid of piano- and guitar-playing members of the group to keep us reasonably on key.

When I asked her about singing this year, she suggested we do a medley of patriotic songs. With the nation being so divided, she thought that at least all of us agree on the fact that we love our country, so why not do something to further that feeling of togetherness. I wholeheartedly agreed, and we’re now working up our act. I’m not sure if we’ll go with costumes this year though. Betsy Ross and George Washington are a little hard to pull off well. And we’re thinking we’ll just avoid Hillary and the Donald for the sake of the children present.

Thank goodness patriotism remains alive and well, whatever one’s political views might be. It’s great to go to a ballgame and watch everyone put hand over heart when the Star Spangled Banner is played. Many people even try to sing along, even though it’s really a hard song to vocalize.

The Fourth of July definitely makes us all feel the intent of E Pluribus Unum. It could very well be the most inclusive holiday of the year. Every citizen has learned some American History – at least enough to know what transpired in 1776 and the ensuing battle for independence. And nothing precludes any race, sex, or religious affiliation from celebrating our freedoms. If you say, “Happy 4th” to someone who doesn’t look like you, talk like you, or think like you, you’re bound to get a smile and a “Happy 4th” in return.

With that image in mind, I started thinking about what else we can all agree on. Ice cream came to mind right away. (Hey, it’s summer, it’s hot, and I’m hungry.) Now, to be sure, there can be debate over flavors. Vanilla remains the most popular for some inexplicable reason. (Have those aficionados never tried chocolate, for cryin’ out loud? Or there’s this peach concoction at a place near Warner Robins that is unbelievable.) But virtually no one will turn down this cold treat if offered. Shoot, if Jon Ossoff’s campaign had thought to spend some of that $30 million on Rocky Road waffle cones, he might be a congressman today.

Animal videos are probably on the non-partisan “agreed upon” list as well. There are just too many posted on social media seemingly every hour for anyone to take great offense at them. Ditto humans doing stupid stunts. For some reason, we all like to watch one of our own wipe out in some form or fashion.

Believe it or not, healthcare is another common denominator. We all want it and we all want it to be good. Of course, there is a small argument on how to provide it for everyone and just who’s going to pay for it. But I’m pretty sure we all agree it’s a needed commodity.

Laughter. Now granted, what tickles one funny bone might not tickle another. But most of us love to laugh. Often, it’s at each other. Or with each other might be more appropriate. Fortunately, there are people who get paid to make us smile. Alas, many of them work in Washington, D.C. or are closely connected to that city’s leading industry. (Wait a minute. Do we laugh at them, or mainly cry? Could be a bit of both. Regardless, we share an emotion there.)

Those few items are just a beginning list of things that unite us rather than divide us. Maybe when you’re holding a sparkler or watching a fireworks display high overhead on Tuesday you can think of a few more. God truly has blessed America. Let’s try and enjoy what He’s given us together, whattaya say?

©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III