Thursday, July 3, 2008
Thoughts on Celebrating My Independence
Uncle Sam Says: "BE HAPPY...OR ELSE"
As we approach the July 4th holiday, I can’t help but ponder all the hoopla that has come to surround this big birthday celebration. According to our history books, July 4th is the day this country achieved it’s independence and became the United States of America. With the official severance of British ties we became a nation characterized by concepts such as “liberty and justice for all”. So grand was our achievement that we came to set aside that special day in July to celebrate ourselves as members of the greatest nation on earth. We adorn our windows with red, white and blue, display the star spangled banner, eat shitty food and swoon over our great fortune to be free americans.
While I’m all about a party, I like to to feel good about what I’m celebrating. If we are celebrating this nation's birthday that’s cool. This country has come a long way and lasted a pretty significant amount of time so a birthday recognition is certainly in order. However, if we are celebrating the “liberty” and “freedom” that this country has supposedly “given” us, I have to respectively withhold my enthusiasm. Virtually every established country has a bill of rights or recognized list of freedoms that are sanctioned. The U.S. has'nt cornered the market on this concept by any means. When I visit other countries, I’m often struck by the amount of actual freedom people enjoy as compared to most of us in the US. We, the yankee flag wavers, blunder about extolling our libertarian virtues yet remain enslaved by concepts designed to control our behavior as humans beings and actions as citizens. Hell, the very act of overt patriotism is often a means to infringe on the rights of those who dare to dissent. I have discovered this many times while being attacked verbally and physically by flag waving Piranhas, frothing at the mouth to get at me as I marched and protested against senseless wars or inhumane treatment of others. Dare to step out of line in this country and pay the price. That’s what this country’s government (as well as most others) is all about. Freedom, or something like it, is the barter that governments hold over the citizenry’s head to maintain control. So, if it’s that type of freedom we are celebrating, I think I’ll sit this one out.
I believe it’s time to establish another major holiday to celebrate liberty and freedom. After all, true freedom is not something any government has the ability to give. The concept of freedom and liberty come from within each of us and we are in control over how much or how little we afford ourselves. For that matter, to hell with a separate day. Since we as human beings are in control of our own happiness and well being, we can all pick our own day to celebrate our liberation. Just let your boss know what day you have designated as your independence day and ask for that day off to celebrate.
So, tomorrow as I’m drinking, noshing, and watching fireworks, I will remain as reverent as I can in honor of the birth of the country we have come to know as the good old US of A. I’ll try to feel something akin to pride in the accomplishments of its people. I’ll attempt to feel good that I’ve been given the day off by our government. But, I’ll save my liberty and freedom celebration for a more appropriate time.