I’ll take my hamburger well-done July 4, but I think the celebration of Independence Day should involve less of fireworks, parades and flag-waving and more thought about what we’re celebrating and of our obligations as citizens.
We should give equal weight to marking the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and to recommitting ourselves to the principles established in that document and in the Constitution. It’s a day to recall what the founding fathers stood for and what we stand for today.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence set the stage for war with the most powerful nation in the world over fundamental principles. They put everything at risk. The patriots who took on the British Empire fought for freedom; today, the principles are less noble.
Today’s “patriot” is more concerned about his tax bill than the Bill of Rights, about his “right” to federal benefits or to carry a pistol into a bar than his right to free speech. What we call “patriotism” is often an expression of nationalistic fervor, a kick-ass mentality that sees America as morally, culturally and politically superior to the rest of the world.
When America went to war in Iraq, a nationalistic fervor overwhelmed the reasonable voices of caution that should have been heard and heeded. We used to sneer as the Ayatollah Khomeini invoked the “Great Satan” (the United States) to rally Iranian masses to his side, but we are similarly summoned by the call to “protect our freedom” by invading a third-world country whose leader we despise and whose oil we covet.
We can be patriotic and be misguided, which is understandable in these confusing times. Sometimes we can learn from the most improbable sources, like the thousands who protested a rigged election in Iran. Those people also love their country, but they stood up for the principle of free elections to a corrupt power structure. We are not alone in loving freedom, but we’ve enjoyed so much for so long we forget what it’s like to not have it.
We’re spoiled. We haven’t had to defend our freedom since the Cold War ended. The biggest threat to our American freedom comes not from abroad, but from those within who would trade away the very rights for which our forefathers fought in exchange for a false sense of security or to vindicate their political passions.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence stood for bigger things. Because they put their families and lives at risk and prevailed, America stands today as the most powerful nation in the world.
It is appropriate to note that we’re today where Great Britain was in 1776. Times do change.
Mark Beardsley is editor of The Commerce News. He lives in Commerce.
I see and hear too many people telling us what we "should be" thinking and doing, and how we take our freedoms for granted while meekly and quietly watching them being stolen from us.
What I do NOT see nor hear are practical, real life suggestions for everyday people to actually make things different.
And do you know why? Because all of these VERY (no, I'm not being sarcastic) smart people who are intelligent enough to figure out that we face a REAL problem aren't smart enough to figure out any real, meaningful way to fix the mess we find ourselves in.
Its not easy to fix problems that have existed and grown larger and larger for several generations. Its like creating credit card debt or putting on weight. It usually takes a lot longer and a lot more effort to get OUT of the problem than it did to get into it in the first place. And...we all want quick, easy answers. There aren't any.
So, should you stop wasting "your time talking to the people who don't listen to the things that you are saying, hoping someone's gonna care"? Of course not.
Just don't expect anyone to do anything about it until you find some of those quick and easy answers.
And remember the old saying...our form of government is the absolute worst in the world, except for all of the others.
Happy Independence Day! Enjoy what so many have sacrificed to give you, and make it count.