Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day 2008

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is one of those holidays that tends to have it's message lost in the hullabaloo of fireworks and backyard cookouts. We seldom recall that the day commemorates nearly a decade of hard-fought battles by American colonists to secede from the rule of the British Empire (1775–1783). It is with deliberate intent that I refer to the Empire rather than merely England. England was doing what powerful England did: They colonized and annexed for the purpose of expanding territory and establishing military bases around the world. The colonists of the New World resented the yoke that came with that mindset of empire. Our forebears yearned for the right of self-governance, or in the words of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Not lightly did the colonists foment war against mighty England, nor was our eventually self-governance cheaply bought. While our actions in Iraq may be alarming and worthy of review, they are in no way analagous to the litany of tyranny presented in the Declaration of Independence. So as we make merry, let us recall with pride and dignity the Herculean tasks that led to the formation of the United States of America. And yes, it was a war for that independence. Our tradition of fireworks recalls the terrible battles and impartial artillery that defined that struggle.

Fire, Fireworks, and Friends
Fire, Fireworks, and Friends

We gather these days as friends and family, feasting and enjoying the fruits of that Revolutionary War. At dusk, we Oooh! and Ahh! at the beautiful fireworks displays.

Independence Day Galaxy
Independence Day Galaxy

Young and old alike, we celebrate in the moment, with pretty sparklers and the reports of firecrackers and grand fireworks.

Smoke-Shrouded Allegra
Smoke Shrouded

Age is not a factor

Remember why we're free, and remember what it means to be free. At what point does the ox notice the yoke? When one seeks to repress another, witholding freewill to speak, to love, or to practice religion (or choose no religion at all), it is they who are lowering the yoke. When a corporate entity renigs on its contracts and agreements and shutters a plant (GM-Janesville), it affects more than just those 5,500 who lose their jobs, but also all the businesses and non-profits who benefited from those salary dollars. After Chrysler shuttered its Kenosha plant, the poverty rate doubled from 13.3% to 26.3% in five years (Source: Isthmus, July 4th, 2008, "From promised land to graveyard"). When our elected officials do things in our name that we find reprehensible, it does affect us all. Why should we allow short-sighted corporate or political interest to supercede the interests of We The People? We don't need a war to remain free from these minor tyrannies, but we do need vigilance and action. Silence is tacit approval. Rise up for the freedom you believe in and be heard and be seen. Choose wisely, and understand the consequences of those choices. Freedom fighting is not the exclusive domain of soldiers.

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