I love barbecues. I love fireworks. I love watermelon, corn on the cob, apple pie, pumpkin pie, fried chicken, potato salad and root beer.
And I have come to love all this great stuff, because I live in the United States of America. I have the opportunity and privilige to come to love all these things, because a group of malcontents and radical thinkers didn't like the way their government was treating them and their peers and countrymen -- and they did something about it.
What they did about it was to start a revolution against their government. A government that ran roughshod over their granted rights, even according to their own charter, the Magna Carta. It was so bad that the leaders of the colonies decided that their final and only recourse was to foment an armed insurrection.
From those early days of our country's birth we get the 4th of July as the Nation's Birthday. The day of the signing of the Declaration of Independance is considered that birthday. It's not the date of the end of the revolution and our nation's success. It's the beginning of the statement of our intent to form a new nation. The date of a legitimization of our rationale for forming a new country.
For eight years, our forebears fought and waged a bloody, protracted war of attrition and determination against a superior force, with better arms and formal training. For eight years, they fought long and hard and ultimately prevailed. Many men died. They died for an idea and an ideal.
Now, in 2011, two hundred thirty five years from that Declaration, we are a nation in trouble. A nation divided. A nation in doubt.
We are fighting two wars of occupation, losing soldiers in combat for no apparent purpose or established (or achieveable) objective. We are being crushed by a staggering load of debt that comes from these series of conflicts. Our financial system has been stressed to well beyond it's ability to bounce back, adding to that staggering load of debt. Our nation's economic health and productive capacity is at it's lowest since the 1930's. Our political leaders seem less interested in bringing our nation out of it's tailspin and, instead, appear to be vying for scraps from the capitalistic industrial hegemony that our courts, laws and politicians have allowed to grow into a new form of feudal elite rulers who are above the laws of the land.
In short, we are looking at a situation, economically, politically and socially, that is very much akin to the status quo of King George's England of 1772.
We have been given bread and circuses to keep us distracted from the central issues that we, as a people, really must have resolved if we are to move forward in a progressive and expansive manner. We have been set upon from the left and the right -- and abandoned by both. We have lost faith in our leaders, because we can inherently see that they have no faith in us as a people.
So this 4th of July, I intend to celebrate the formation of our most important feature of this country -- the ideals of that Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I intend to celebrate our birth as a free people who's government is bound by a sacred oath to be limited in it's ability to rule by the will of the people. I intend to celebrate the continued life of that idea and that ideal -- the first of it's kind in written history -- and from which all others of it's kind, failed or otherwise, have sprung.
I encourage all of you not to lose faith or hope in our nation, even though we have most certainly fallen on some dark days and hard times. By the same vestment of encouragement, I also command you to look to the world around you, stop listening to just the pundits and whatever political party you seem bound to support and recognize what makes America great: the people.
Not political parties. Not our government. Not our capitalist centric fascistic corporations. You, the people. We, the people. We have to demand from our leaders and businesses that we recieve accountability, responsible governance and fair trade, wages and taxation.
And to do this, we must all put down the distractions of polarized thinking, doublespeak, and blaming others for the troubles of our nation. If we look, we know exactly where the problems are centered. If we pay attention and listen to science, educated leaders in their fields and non-politically organized groups who's objective is to collect data and look for solutions, we stand a good chance of fixing the mess we're in.
Celebrate the 4th of July. Have your barbecue and enjoy the fireworks. In all that, take some time to reflect on this nation. Focus on what makes us great and know that we are a nation of people who have a history and a tradition of solving and overcoming what seem to be insurmountable issues. Celebrate our independance and then, let's start thinking about what we really need to do, as a people, to get this nation back on track.
Right now, I don't trust the government to answer this situation. I don't trust large corporate business to even bother unless there's profit in it. I do trust you, my fellow citizens of all ethnicities, cultures and points of view. The United States has been called the Melting Pot of society. I had an instructor once say she preferred to call it a Mixed Salad.
So, once the celebration is over, we really need to take a look around us and start looking for -- and demanding -- solutions to the overarching situations of this country. I don't wish to sound alarmist, but basically this country's economy determines the course of the world economy. So if our economy crumbles and takes a true nosedive, then the rest of the world's economy will be pulled down in the suction as our ship-of-state sinks beneath the waves.
I think we can keep that from happening. I'm not asking you to solve it yourself. I'm telling you that we can do this if we stop bickering and shouting at each other about pointless things that exclude groups and peoples for no other reason than that they are different. Our differences are our greatest strength in this country.
If we all thought, felt and believed the same, we would not be the country we are. We'd be a cookie cutter country with totalitarian leaders who we all agreed with and supported no matter what. Clearly, that's not who we are in the United States.
So let's start telling our government that we, the people, think we need to see more substantive changes in the way they do things. It's our government and our country, not theirs and theirs alone to do with as they see fit. They are our servants and elected officials. They answer to us, not the other way 'round.
Okay, heavy stuff. Enjoy your long weekend and I hope you have a picnic, barbecue, friends and family close, lots of good food, fireworks and plenty of time to rest afterwards. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know I will.