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Monday, July 03, 2006

On this Independence Day

I thought I'd take a few minutes to express my thoughts regarding what Independence Day means to me in 2006. Despite the fact that I've been out of work for far too long and the prospects for a good job look bleak, this is still the Land of Opportunity and it is that fact that produces much of my ongoing optimism. Despite the fact that the divide between the haves and have-nots continues to grow, we are all in the category of haves compared to most of the rest of the world.
This is the country of open and free debate, where you don't have to look over your shoulder when expressing your views; where the freedom to express your views and disagree openly with the policies of your government has changed little in over 200 years. This is a country where having a far left and a far right truly produces a working, successful center; and it is this open and ongoing tug of war that makes this country continue to grow and excel.
I realize we have Memorial Day, but we should always remember on Independence Day the sacrifices of those in the past and ongoing that have made and continue to make us free and independent.
On this Independence Day though I think we should also resolve as a country and a people to temper our arrogance and that big chip on our shoulder. We are a better country when we see our flaws and are willing to consider how we are truly viewed by other countries. Being the best and strongest is a great thing; but if we are never willing to see the chinks in our armour, then our chinks can grow and we cannot continue to grow as a nation. That also is good advice for us as individuals. We need to recognize that the biggest strength this country has is its diversity of its people and its diversity of ideas and ideals.Let us have a safe and happy but reflective Independence Day...reflect on what has made this country great but resolve to not sit on our laurels. There is plenty of room for improvement. Those who do not grow will stagnate and eventually weaken and perhaps die.
So let's be vigilent and do our part, each and every one of us, to see to it that the sacrifices of so many is never wasted.
I would encourage anyone who reads this blog to leave a comment and better yet to backlink to it and write your own thoughts on what this Independence Day means to you...almost like a blogger chain letter. Remember, whoever breaks the chain will have 10 years of bad luck or something dumb like that. And please don't blow your hand off playing with fireworks!


LittleCuz said...

All too often we forget the past. I heard something this weekend on the radio, that, well pissed me off. Let me give you backdrop. I'm in the woods of Abbott Maine, enjoying a great weekend with family and friends. The radio is going, country station of course, and a narrative comes on, supposedly a letter from a Canadian. The discourse starts of by telling everyone to give the US a break. That was fine, but then it wonders into ignorance. It claims that the US is the only country to help others when disasters strike, then plunges even further when it claims that no one ever helps the US.

While it's true that we as a country help third world countries when disaster strikes, the mud slides in Cebu and the tsunami in Malaysia are great examples. But with 90% of third world countries at or below the poverty level, it's not realistic for us to expect help from those countries. Unrealistic expectations lead down a dangerous road.

But the part of history that most Americans forget, is that we owe the fact that we are a country to France. Yes France. With out the support of the French there would be no July 4th celebrations for the US. Granted we liberated France during WWII, that may be favor returned, but we as a nation need to put the arrogant notion that we owe our freedom to the colonians alone. Being ungrateful isn't a positive trait, and it's certainly not patriotic.

There are few in the country who are more patriotic than I. I've served 3 years active duty and 5 years in the Nation Guard. Some would say that I fought for the right for others to fly the Stars and Stripes, not burn it. I however know that I fought for the right for others to CHOOSE whether to fly it or burn it. I may not like it, I may think it's the worst thing anyone can do, but this is a country of freedom, for everyone, not just the ones we agree with.

Kevin said...

Very nicely said. And thanks for the sidebar linkage. I just added you to the Indie Castle blogroll.

To me Independence Day is a time to reflect... on how far we've come and the myriad ways in which we've changed our laws and our culture to be more consistent with our founding principles - ended slavery, ratial equality, women's sufferage, etc. And also a time to reflect on how we've missed the mark and diverged from our founding principles.

In particular I'm troubled this Independence Day by the secretive and arrogant nature of the executive branch of government.

Thomas Jefferson articulated three inalienable rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable means just that. They're human rights. Inherent human rights which are not granted by government and thus can't rightly be denied by government. Yet our government set up the Gitmo Bay detention facility with the express purpose of denying fundamental rights to fellow human beings. That they did it in another country betrays their incomprehension of what an inalienable right is... at best. Or at worst it betrays their utter contempt for our founding principles. Either way, during this most solomn of holidays I hope that my fellow Americans remember the point of this holiday. It's about more than sparklers and fireworks displays.

El Mas Chingón said...

Amen to that! I'll have something up in the early morning hours usual!

Anonymous said...

Of I'm behind as usual but would like to comment on Independence Day - Fourth of July. I too believe this is the greatest country in all of history - well, planet earth history. We of course don't know what history there is on other planets LOL. I am bothered by this supposed divide between left and right, liberal and conservative, East and West or anything else you want to come up with. But like Zeb said we need to look at how much we are alike. And as Aaron said a lot of it is compounded by ignorance. How many people know what is in the Declaration of Independence or what is all means? I would suspect that a lot of people who have this 'love this country or leave it' attitude would have been on the side of the British in the Revoluntionary War.

I know a lot of famous people have made quotes to the effect that I can love my country but not support everything my government does. Right now I have a hard time supporting most of what this current administration is doing.

Getting back to this being the greatest country ever. My question is - Why do we deserve this? I'm thinking dumb luck LOL. Of course you can subscribe to the view that we are 'God's chosen' but I believe it has more to do with the fact that all the Europeans who came here recognized what wonderful natural resources are here and had a vision of a new kind of live. I won't get into the exploitation of the Natives and all that right now.

Happy Independence Day - we have one every day in this great country!! Mom