Declaring independence from England was the easy part. The hard part is living the Declaration of Independence daily. The tale of the two George’s is one of tyrant versus George the insurrectionist. George the third, if you are keeping tab was the tyrant as are most kings, dukes and Earls throughout history. I cannot for the life of me in July of 2010 imagine Barrack Obama as a tyrant, and yet people do. I wonder where that comes from? Fear? Sour grapes? Meanwhile, back to George. (The other George, of course is Washinton) George III is often accused of obstinately trying to keep Great Britain at war with the revolutionaries in America, despite the opinions of his own ministers. In the words of the Victorian author George Trevelyan, the King was determined “never to acknowledge the independence of the Americans, and to punish their contumacy by the indefinite prolongation of a war which promised to be eternal.” The King wanted to “keep the rebels harassed, anxious, and poor, until the day when, by a natural and inevitable process, discontent and disappointment were converted into penitence and remorse”. I guess he died waiting for that day to come to pass.
Meanwhile, back home, how have we been doing? Well George once said “A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.” I suppose the the word traitor could be interchanged to prove a persons “patriotism” to some degree. A measure of worth. Hows that coming along? Who owns the flag? The rightees seem to value it more than the leftees. By value, I mean, it is more precious to them than the people it represents. Flag waving has always been a sign of a patriot. It’s a lot easier to wave a flag than to come up with concrete solutions to problems facing all the citizenry of this vast and wonderful country of ours. Perhaps service to those who have less lung power or financial power is a better use of monies than spectacular but ephemeral fireworks displays and flag-wapping. Pro-activity may begin a habit of service to make sure all have the same voice and opportunities enshrined in the document signed on that hot July day 234 years ago this weekend. A declaration is followed by action. Declare and celebrate our freedoms to be sure but also remember that this Republic of ours is an experiment and as such, elements may change. Change and adaptation isn’t something to be scared of, it is the natural order of progress. It is organic, like the Constitution.
How much of a concern for governance do you have? How much involvement, beyond wearing silly hats and carrying misspelled signs do you have in helping this experiment to succeed? On the TV I saw a lawn sign in a trendy neighborhood in San Antonio that read “No Socialism.” On the lawn across the street in this same trendy neighborhood was a sign that read “No Selfishness.” Which one would you have on your lawn? And why? There are arguments on both sides of the street, but the socialism argument is confusing and for reasons that are very obvious if you have read history. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” said Wendell Phillips in his speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852. How true is that? If we desire freedom we must earn it, not inherit it. Each generation of Americans must be vigilant to the point of active involvement in insuring liberty. This is not about soldiers, it is about the task for ordinary Americans. This vigilance, I believe, is moving out of our comfort zones, looking around and seeing the different ethnicities, embracing them without fear, joining with them to help continue this ongoing experiment in democracy. It demands action, not loud or pious or self-serving words. Action!
Forget paralyzing fear. Be practical. We saw under the previous administration how fear was used so well to chip away at the some our basic liberties in exchange for perceive safety. (Dick and George used this tactic masterfully.) Go ahead, tap our phones if it will keep us safe. Read our emails if it will keep us safe. Use intrusive scans at the airport if it will keep us safe. Take away our right to know if it will keep us safe. On this anniversary of a declaration of independence from tyranny stand up and demand independence and realize our interdependence as a people as well. As Ben put it so long ago (1759) “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And that is why we are different from other nations. We won’t give in to tyrants. We will ensure domestic tranquillity amongst the populace so that all equal Americans can enjoy the benefits of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” without all the hoopla of flag waving and phony patriotism. What have you done for your country (people) today?
And so it goes….