Independence Day

It’s “Independence Day”.

I like to take these holidays and do something that celebrates them in a way I feel is appropriate to the intent of the holiday. The 4th of July represents a day (an observed day, as nothing really happened on the 4th, the vote was held on the 2nd) where a group of American miscreants who felt they weren’t being respected by those who held authority told same authoritarians what they could with their rules and their unjust laws in an astoundingly articulate way.

Everyone reading that feels like that statement applies to them and their unique world view, and to an extent, it does. See, the way things look to me in our little social experiment of a country these days is that folks are all really angry that everyone else doesn’t see things the way they do. That’s the gist, distilled down to the purest possible base. It doesn’t matter if it’s skin color, taxes, religion, whatever, we’re in a place in America right now where we don’t think it’s ok for someone else to see things differently.

The thing is, the very fact that we see things differently is basis for the freedom and independence we celebrate on this day. If those folks back in the late 1700s hadn’t decided that things just weren’t working the way they were, there’s a pretty solid chance we’d of all stayed subjects a good many years longer. Different people and groups of people have thoughts independent of one another, diversity if you will. It kinda led to the birth of this nation.

Americans have a long history of making a big statement in the name of their views about things. We’ve had a couple of events that could wear the name “Civil War”. The obvious one in the 1860s and more recently, the one in the 1960s. While the civil rights movement of the 1960s doesn’t usually get the title “war” it was a vastly more powerful and effective statement on the situation in America at the time. The folks in power did everything they could to continue to force their unjust rules and laws down the throats of those who were “ruled”. They tried to silence those who disagreed with them, violently when they thought necessary. The right side won that one too, and they did it without destroying half the country in the process. The independent thoughts and differing opinions of a minority of Americans at the time led to the biggest change this country had ever seen without an associated armed conflict. Things still aren’t perfect, but they are much better, and I would argue, improving all the time.

The government isn’t always right. Neither is your neighbor Ned. Neither am I, and neither are you. We would do well to listen to the voices of dissent, the minority reports and the people we just don’t agree with. It broadens our thinking, and exposes us to points of view we may not have developed on our own. We might not be swayed, they may still sound absurd after you’ve heard them out, but the thing is, we’ve given them the respect of hearing their position. We owe this to each other as Americans, (and would be Americans). We can all stand to learn some things, and a little respect goes a long way.

If you’re not happy about things, absolutely go out there and state your case. Protest is the American way. If you don’t understand why people are protesting, give them a listen. A real listen. Maybe you don’t end up agreeing, but no one can say you didn’t hear them out. Whatever you end up doing, I hope you all have a fine day, wave the red, white and blue, and act in a socially responsible way. Enjoy your freedom, it was hard won, don’t try to take it away from others. It’s pretty simple.

Don’t be dicks to each other.

As for me, today is my daughter’s birthday, and she’s a powerfully independent girl, so I will be As for me, today is my daughter’s birthday, and she’s a powerfully independent girl, and very dear to me, so I will be celebrating that as much as anything else. Happy Birthday Belle, and America too.

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