Happy 4th of July. It’s not often popular these days to express patriotism or nationalism. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have worn down our collective spirit. Stolen our sense of pride and community will. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing Civilization, it’s that Democracies don’t like protracted wars.

The counter lesson is that it’s not possible to play the game without war. Part of that is because Civilization is a game based around the goal of global conquest, and so any comparison between it and the real world is a touch juvenile. Despite that, war remains a necessary practical reality of the real world.

Regardless of your feelings about war, or the involvement in your nation in it, the 4th of July is not a simple jingoistic celebration of violence, imperialism or national offense. It is a celebration of victory over tyranny, of freedom, of independence. Celebrate in any way you see fit. Grill hot dogs, watch the race, shoot off some fireworks, punch aliens in the face, this is your day, do with it what you will.