Thoughts On This ‘Independence Day’

fireworks-promo-articleLarge.gifToday is the Fourth of July … typically a fun holiday involving grill-outs, get-togethers with friends, and at the end of the day, a fireworks display.  I remember many a Fourth spent with our old friends Kim & Jerry, cooking out on their patio, then going to a local park where every year there was an awesome fireworks display.  It was a much-anticipated day.  This year, I actually forgot that it was the fourth until yesterday when I was talking on the phone with my friend Herb, and he reminded me.  Whoopee.

The point of the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, some 242 years ago.  It would be another eleven years before the U.S. Constitution was born, but still, it was the beginning of the process that eventually led to the nation we now know as the United States of America, the USA.

Frankly, while I still have admiration for those who have gone before and helped shape this nation, those who worked tirelessly to make it a good place to live by abolishing slavery, working toward civil rights and equal rights for women, those who have engaged in humanitarian ventures to help the people … the ordinary people … of this nation thrive, I have very little pride in this country today.  I really do not feel like celebrating the hypocrisy that this nation has become.

We are currently in the midst of such great upheaval, such chaos, that I no longer even feel that it is a single nation, but rather a bunch of people living on the same continent, but being engaged in a constant battle with prize being … nothing.  The things that once made me proud to live in this country are being eroded day-by-day.  Police killing unarmed blacks simply because they can get away with it.  White supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups marching, holding rallies, all because they are arrogantly convinced that somehow pale skin is a virtue.  Conspiracy theories running rampant. People at either end of the political spectrum engaging in juvenile name-calling, threats and taunts, rather than trying to work together to solve the nation’s ills.  And nearly 3,000 innocent children, torn from the arms of their parents and being held hostage by our own government, innocent pawns in a high-stakes game of politics. Where this nation began as a nation of immigrants, we now vilify immigrants.

The people we voted for, we elected to represent us and our values, sit in their fancy air-conditioned offices and scoff at our needs, our desires.  “Vote for me and I’ll promise you everything you ask for,” they say in the lead-up to November, but then after they are elected, it’s “Ha ha, sucker!  Don’t call me … I’ll call you!”  They do not even hear or see our cries for equality, for truth, for justice, for help.

The history of this nation has sometimes been noble, often not.  We killed the Native Americans in droves and ran them off their land for our own greed.  We held on to the notion that African-Americans were not wholly to be considered human beings, but rather slaves, for far too many years and even today, some hold onto that belief.  We interned citizens of Japanese ancestry for no other reason than unwarranted fear during World War II.  We murdered more than a quarter-of-a-million people by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in 1945.  The list of our less-than-glorious moments in history is long.

And today, we are engaged in actively and knowingly destroying the earth for no other reason than to put more money in the pockets of rich corporate barons.  We are devaluing our poor people, robbing them of health care and even food & shelter.  We are condoning the blatant discrimination of people whose skin is not pale or who do not believe in the “Christian values” that are determined by a small group of men called ‘televangelists’ who are getting rich off people who can ill-afford to support their luxury lifestyles.  We are supporting corrupt politicians who are milking us for their own personal gain.  We are intentionally scaling back our education system so that only the wealthy will be well-educated enough to hold political offices in the future.

There are many things to love about this nation, but today I have trouble remembering what they are.  I love the wonderful forests, rivers, lakes and coastal areas, but those are being destroyed by greed, by oil pipelines, drilling and mining operations that put more money in the pockets of the wealthy.  It feels like everything that was once good is being destroyed, and I find it difficult to feel any joy in celebrating the birth of a nation that is now eating its own.  A nation that places more value on a dollar than on a life.

Many will not like this post, will not like my harsh words, and I understand that.  Frankly, I don’t like them either, but they are honest words.  Honesty … one of the values, along with integrity and compassion, that we have thrown in the trash as we race to become a nation of rich white people.  It is a vision that sickens me and one that I want no part of.

Keep safe and enjoy your holiday, friends.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

Just Another Day … 04 July 2017

On Tuesday, 4 July, the nation will celebrate the anniversary of publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.

A bit of history: The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.

adams-jefferson

Jefferson & Adams

A bit of trivia: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

Today, most families celebrate the holiday pretty much as described by John Adams, with parades, picnics, and at the end of the day, fireworks.

To be sure, there are still plenty of good things about this nation.  There are a multitude of “good people doing good things”, as I point out every Wednesday.  And there are many, many people who are fighting every day for truth, justice, and equal rights for all.  We have beautiful lakes, mountains and forests. And as of this writing, we are relatively free from oppression, we have a relatively free press and freedom to speak our minds, else I would not be writing this blog.  However …

This year, I must admit that I have no joy over the holiday.  Always in the past, I have felt proud of what had been accomplished in our nation in just two centuries, was proud to be a citizen of the United States.  No country is perfect, and I understood the flaws of our government and our citizenry, but still … it was a pretty damn good country.  Today, however, I am not all that proud of this nation.  I am ashamed and disgusted.  I have even wondered if perhaps we would have been better off to have remained a colony of the crown.

Much of my shame, of course, comes from what has become of the office of the president.  Even though we have had some less-than-noble men sitting in the Oval Office before, it has never been as thoroughly defiled as it has been over the past five months.  The policies and ideologies of the current administration are in direct contrast to those put forth by the framers of the Constitution, who began that document with the words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

To celebrate 241 years, even as our citizens are being deprived of adequate, affordable health care, are being deprived of clean air and water, deprived of a solid education for their children, seems wrong.  Our African-American citizens are often being abused, targeted by the very officers of the law who should be protecting them, and are not given justice for any of it.  Our tax dollars go to buy guns, tanks and bombs, not to provide basic necessities for our poor and elderly.  So no, I find no pride in my heart for the government of this nation. At its head is a ‘man’ who is vulgar, crass, and respects no one. It is comprised of rich, corrupt men who care not a whit for the citizens … not a whit.

But my shame and disappointment goes much deeper than just the people in the White House and Congress, for they shall pass through quickly enough (we hope) and be replaced with other, hopefully more conscionable politicians.  The deepest part of my shame is with my fellow citizens.

I am ashamed that a large portion of this country believe that they are superior to others because of the colour of their skin.  I am ashamed that many have chosen to hate and even murder others because they do not share the same religion.  I am ashamed of those who cannot accept that a person may fall in love with another of the same gender.  I am ashamed that people are more willing to fight to carry lethal weapons than they are to fight for their children.  I am ashamed that people have reverted to the racism of the past without learning from the lessons of history.  I am ashamed of the people who would turn away refugees from the Middle East and send them to an almost certain death.  I am ashamed when I hear people promoting violence against their fellow humans at rallies and protests, that some still have not learned the art of ‘peaceful’ protest.  I am ashamed that so many are willing to sacrifice our very planet out of ignorance.  I am ashamed that so many refuse to learn facts, but rather accept as fact whatever they are told. I am ashamed of those who use their religion as a shield, but judge people by the colour of their skin and refuse to offer assistance to those in need.

Most of all, I am saddened by the vileness and hate I read about every day.  Certainly it is natural that we are not all going to agree on everything, that there will be debates and disputes, but today in this nation, there is pure, ugly hate.  The person who is supposed to be a leader incites violence, tells people to punch others and he will cover their legal fees.  A man recently elected to Congress beat up a reporter who was just doing his job the night before he was elected.

For me, all of this makes it very difficult to celebrate a day that should be about being proud of our nation, for I am not at all proud right now.  In my household, Tuesday will be just another day.  There will be no grill-out, no parades, no fireworks.  I shall write, my daughter will study, and Miss Goose will no doubt draw.  And we will be content in our own skins, but I think none of us will be particularly proud of what our nation has become.  I find no reason for a celebration this July fourth.  For me, it is just another day.

lady liberty cries