Regardless how one feels about the current state of politics in the United States, most people would concede that the freedoms we enjoy today are worth the battles we fought to win and keep them.

The paralysis of Congress, the debate over hundreds of millions flowing into the national campaign, the Supreme Court decisions that further divide the country—all could be reasons to be discouraged about the short-term future of the country,  but we’ve seen worse in our history and come out all right. The people will always come to the rescue of their country.

Next week will mark the 236th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that continues to inspire people around the world. Witness the changes happening around the globe, especially in the Middle East. The Egyptians just concluded their first ever democratic election. Tunisia and Libya both ousted their dictator leaders.  A wind of freedom is sweeping through that part of the world.

The American model is still the best example for billions of people. No system is without its flaws, but most people would prefer to live in the United States. America is still the shining city on a hill.

It is easy to take our freedoms for granted. When you have freedom it is hard to fathom living without them. We all forget too often.

Our Independence Day holiday should be more than hot dogs, carnivals, and napping in a hammock. We celebrate the holiday, but how many of us stop and think about what it means? We’re free and most of the world wants to be like us.

Freedom isn’t free; it comes with rights but it also comes with responsibilities. It’s the responsibility part that people tend to forget sometimes. Instead of asking what has America done for me lately, people might well ask, “What can I do to strengthen this great experiment that is America?” People around the country die fighting for the right to select their own leaders, yet here in America less than half of us vote. We support our troops in harm’s way, thanking them for fighting to keep us free, but do we do our part in maintaining that freedom?

Freedom isn’t free; democracy is messy.  The country is ideologically and politically divided. One party wins in one election cycle, then the other other party wins in the next cycle. That’s as good a check and balance system as any of Founding Fathers might have considered. If a group of colonial politicians could compromise to create a new nation more than two centuries ago, politicians in modern America should be able to do no less, for the same reasons: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.