Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

I'm usually not prone to blind displays of patriotism, but in these times when the United States seems to slipping in its international standing at an alarming rate, I would feel remiss if I didn't write a brief post reminding everyone of the importance of this day. I would also feel remiss if I didn't state up front that I stole this idea from Dr. Phil Plait's blog, Bad Astronomy.

The true importance of the Fourth of July is often washed out by the glare of fireworks and beaten down by the forceful cacophony of television commercials offering sales on everything from mattresses to swimwear. It is perhaps even more shameful to see the ideals for which the early Americans fought and died twisted for the personal gains of politicians. Does it really matter that Barrack Obama doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin? How can his patriotism be questioned when he is running for the highest office in the land for which he obviously cares a great deal? Is blind patriotism, supporting one's country no matter what its government does, really what the founding fathers had in mind? It was dissent and a spirit of rebellion that built the country in which I live. A country whose ideals and principles I hold dear.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-Thomas Jefferson

It's this spirit of dissent that has recently brought to my mind a little experiment. An experiment, I'm sorry to say, I haven't had a chance to try. Instead of blowing things up this Fourth of July, I think it would be interesting, a true display of what makes the United States great, to light an American flag on fire. Not in protest of our government's policies, but in celebration of the freedoms our founding fathers bestowed upon us. What sort of reaction would this get, were you to do it, say, in your front yard? I can imagine, not a welcoming one. I can only hope it would start some interesting conversations with your neighbors about our freedoms as Americans, and what free speech truly is.

So, while you're outside this weekend enjoying the rockets' red glare along with a hot dog or two, keep in mind what this holiday represents. And remember how the freedoms you now enjoy came about in the first place.

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
-The Declaration of Independence

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