Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Independence Day

Independence Day.  Our national day of recognition of the public affirmation that the 13 colonies of Great Britain in America were free and independent states.   Some lesser known trivia for you:  In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as President of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.

I highly recommend David McCullough's biography on the 2nd president of the United States, John Adams or if you would rather, the HBO produced mini-series of the same name.  In each, you will see the risk, the determination, the forethought the original members of the 2nd Continental Congress gave to the birth of our country so many years ago.
Like many, I think about what it must have been like to be so frustrated by the government that one would actually resort to rebellion to seek remedy.  It must have been both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. 

Of course, the revolution happened, we were born as a country and for the last 200 plus years we have made of our country what we would.  Some remarkable things, some terrible things. 

I find what is happening in our country today to be in more of the terrible category than remarkable.  The sheer cynicism, hypocrisy, nationalistic stupidity and fealty to the corporatist structure in our country makes me sick.  Politicians from both parties smile while they lie incessantly.  They say "trust me, I have the answer".  Almost regardless of party affiliation, it is as Pete Townsend said:  "Meet the New Boss, same as the Old Boss".

What is even more sickening is the vile clap-trap being spewed by the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and all the other right-wing politicians in this country.  They have seized upon the poor economic conditions we face to find fault with the most unlikely of the perpetrators:  The poor.  They blame the housing crash on poor people trying to buy more than they should on credit.  They blame the poor for being unemployed and lazy.  They blame the poor and unemployed for allowing the illegal immigration problem because they won't take jobs that the illegals will.

People like Glenn Beck even go so far to say that anyone who fights for social justice (attempting to alleviate the pain and suffering of the least fortunate of us) is "un-christian" and urges people who go to a church that preaches social justice to leave that church.    Mr. Beck.  The Christ you so like to profess your love toward would throw you out of the temple as he did the money changers.  Do you not event Read your own Bible?  Try Matthew 25:40.  "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  So, Glenn, if you deny the poor comfort, you deny it from your Christ.

The problem I have with the nationalistic noise emanating from the "Tea-Party" phenomenon, as well as from the Republicans and Democrats is they will deny that we are often on the wrong side of history.  "America, right or wrong!"  "America, Love it or Leave it!", these are phrases that one often hears at gatherings such as political rallies or 4th of July celebrations.  Indeed, there is much to be proud of and grateful. Our country has done some wonderful things for the world.  We must also recognize that we've done some awful things to the world as well.  Some are unintended consequence of actions we thought would be beneficial, such as converting a people to be dependent upon industry instead of agriculture, establishing a low-income group dependent up on a foreign company or power for their livelihood.  Others include deliberately sabotaging governments or even overthrowing them because we fear their politics or we want a more "business friendly" government in place. 

I say these things not to deride our country but to offer that if one only sees half the picture they do not understand the story.  Ours is a story of achievement and failure, of positive and negative, of goals achieved and promises betrayed, and one that is continuously evolving.  Who will we be in the next 100 years?  What will we have done?  I hope that the legacy our descendants learn about is positive, and not positive because someone edited out the bad, but that we overcame our baser instincts and as Lincoln said "be touched by the better angels of our nature"

I hope you all had an enjoyable 4th.


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