Reflections on this Fourth of July
‘We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.’- - William Faulkner
We have two more days to the 233rd anniversary of our Independence Day. I know this is a day that is commonly associated with fireworks, good old fashioned hot dog and burger barbecues, heavenly kegs of beer, picnics, and baseball. I know many recognize this day as the anniversary of the American Colonies’ announcement declaring themselves as free and independent states, separated from allegiance to Great Britain. However this day is far more than just that. This day marked our nation’s definition of legitimate government and the proclamation of a political system under the sovereignty of the people. Thus, this is an occasion calling for more than hot dogs and fireworks. This should be an occasion to reflect upon where we are today, to take a hard look at the current state of our liberty and the rights we were fortunate to inherit, and to renew our pledge to revive and defend those precious principles of liberty and justice.
On this anniversary of our liberties let us put aside our blinding pride; let us remove our tainted patriotism spectacles; let us free ourselves from the irrational leech of fear; let us strip ourselves from the gown of denial worn for way too long, and reflect…
Pay special attention to our current national security apparatus, and remember the last time you found yourself within its control: whether when you encountered it while being stripped and searched at the airport, or paused in the middle of a sentence during a phone call due to the ‘others’’ present danger, or hesitated to sign a petition due to fear of inclusion on one of ‘their’ lists. I know you remember such encounters; as do I. Next, read and truly register a few words of wisdom by the fathers of our nation’s liberties, such as this: ‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ Let us ask ourselves whether we deserve either. The answer should not matter in the least, since it seems that today we have neither.
Engage in a bit of nostalgia on this great day, and remember the long-gone days when those in our government were called ‘public servants.’ Then ask yourself when and how that morphed into such ostentatious forms as the now popular bureaucratic ‘Czar.’ Let us push our imagination and ponder what the founding fathers would have thought of the very idea of royal titles within the nation they created, and the coronation of those who were intended by them to be ‘servants’ of the people. Here is one from Franklin: 'In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.'
Take notice of our mighty military and even mightier paramilitary intelligence and police agencies today; this awe inspiring beast of our government industry sustained by equally awe inspiring sums taken from every one of our pockets. Next, let us savor the words and pay a deserved special tribute to the father of our nation, George Washington, who said ‘Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.’
Consider the fact that our great Constitution was not written and not meant to be circumstantial nor conditional. For those who sincerely believe in compromising those liberties granted to us by our Constitution under the illusion of gaining security: Try to present a persuasive argument to justify those liberties we lately have given up, those taken away from us in the name of a vague war without end. Let’s make sure it is solid enough to stand on its own and able to counter Jefferson’s “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”
Finally, recall the words of the Constitution Oath that all federal employees, all federal judges, all military personnel, all new citizens are required to take, step back, and pay special attention to these lines: ‘support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies- foreign and domestic.’ Now ask yourself who is meant by ‘domestic’ enemies.
Here comes our Fourth of July. Surely what is left of our Bill of Rights is worth celebrating, and just as surely what has been taken away is worth fighting for. So let us enjoy that cold beer, savor that hot dog, and while doing that let us reflect and renew our pledge to fight for those irreplaceable American liberties that have been taken from us; the fight against our ‘real’ foes. Are we prepared to make the same pledge those founding fathers made 233 years ago?
“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”- - Thomas Paine
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Happy Fourth, all!