Pops! on Independence! Independence Mall, July 3, ’12. I wasn’t planning on being there, and wouldn’t have known (or possibly cared) that it existed if I hadn’t sleepwalked straight out of my building into the throng of miniature flags stuffed into pocket protectors and hair berets marching to the mall. Slightly cynical at first, within minutes I realized I couldn’t have cared less whether the people around me were liberals, conservatives, tea partiers, occupiers, whatever. They were none of those, and maybe – hopefully even – all of them. Instead in this moment, for me, we were just people, celebrating – whether we realized it or not – our interdependence as much as our independence, our mutual regard as much as our freedoms, and our fundamental similarities as much as our apparent differences. Differences and all, still we were there together, to celebrate the great promise that is this conceptual jewel of a nation, and within it a city wrapped up tight in suffering and hardship, in a troubled and suffering planet. But for a few hours, there was promise, and unity among our differences, and even a little hope. May these feelings of kindness toward not only each other, but all others only increase, may our city be known one day simply as the City of Love, and may all cities follow suit like lights on a string, recognizing all beings as truly equal, all as precious, and realizing in all actions, compassion, peace and joy for all.