Today is the 4th of July. It’s a Thursday, normally a work day, but there is no work today for the JBE, mainly by choice. Given that tomorrow is Friday, I imagine many people will extend the holiday and make it the summer’s first long weekend.
Viewed as a day to detach from the 24/7 nature of the 21st century workplace, I’ll enjoy today. I’ll spend it with some family and extended family, near a nice body of water, and there’ll be good food, some drink, and we’ll enjoy one another’s company.
I’m conflicted, however, each and every Independence Day because there is a certain patriotic quality that holidays like this one are wrapped up in. The need to unquestionably venerate the flag and accept the veneer that America is some special place, even worthy of a special blessing from a deity, crosses the line for me. Eat your hot dogs and hamburgers, shoot off your fireworks, and enjoy your apple pie with a large dollop of ice cream. Just save me the historical revisionism.
Actually, I take some solace in what Ralph Nader wrote about holding American corporations to some standard relative to the Pledge of Allegiance and economic patriotism, especially in how they treat American workers.
There are still values that Americans can all get behind and embrace. Merely pledging blind obedience to anything—a flag, a government, a leader—is stupid and dangerous.
I liked this essay, by John Wooding. Wooding, who became an American citizen two weeks ago, and he shares what that unique experience meant to him. A Brit, no less. I particularly liked this part of his essay.
And yet that day, in that historic hall, I realized that the core values of America are incredibly important and unique. The Declaration, by insisting that we are all equal, that we have inalienable rights and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should always and everywhere be protected, is a magnificent statement. The assertion that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed should never be forgotten nor eroded. These ideas, these claims, are the foundations of democracy and they mean much more than I often thought. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, too often misused and misquoted by scoundrels, builds on this foundation, demanding protection from tyranny and enshrining rights that are absolutely critical. I guess we sometimes forget the power of these words and the passionate core held by these ideas.
Happy 4th of July!