Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day

I'm still on vacation, so these thoughts will be even more unorganized as usual. But I want to talk about Independence Day.

The Founding Fathers -- which is a term, in itself, that I dislike intensely, denying as it does any contribution from half the population -- were a group of slave-owning imperialists who were largely interested in expanding their own wealth at the expense of the indigenous population. (And, oh, please, no one out there tell me that the conquest of America from the first peoples was justified because they, themselves, were conquerors -- two wrongs still do not make any rights.) They denied rights to women, their large slave populations, not to mention the people who they were in the process of conquering and destroying, those pesky Indians.

And yet, I think that most Americans don't understand what a change -- what an epochal change -- the Declaration of Independence was. For the first time in human history, the government was formally acknowledged to be legitimacy from the consent of the governed. The sovereign was held by we the people. Though the country founded in large part on the Declaration of Independence is (as are all things) imperfect, the Declaration, itself, is a fabulous document, it is an importance advance. Since it's writing, there have been dozens of other declarations of independence, almost all of them being influenced by the Declaration of Independence of the United States. While, in implementation, it failed to live up to the promise of the ideals, the ideals themselves have served as an inspiration for people around the world -- including Americans, ourselves, in our struggles against the imperfections of our government! I think that's pretty cool and worth celebrating.

I will end on this note, then. What I am considering on this Independence Day runs thus: that in the future, it will not be the US Declaration of Independence that inspires people to freedom. Oh, I know that there are other inspirations equally as important and relevant, and more modern, better, but the reasons for people turning away from the US Declaration of Independence are what compels my mind today. The Declaration has not lost its power because the world has moved on from the ideals of the Declaration -- it is not irrelevant, even today. No. What has stopped people from drawing their inspiration from the Declaration is the actions of the United States. After centuries of imperialism, the world doesn't view the United States as an honest broker in any regard. We do not stand for freedom, but for oppression, repression, war and conquest, support of backwards tyrannical regimes and hypocrisy. Which bothers me on the level of pride, but going further back what really bothers me is that the United States does not stand for freedom, but for oppression, repression, war and conquest, support of backward tyrannical regimes and hypocrisy. What bothers me is that it seems that the citizens of the United States of America have, themselves, forgotten the words and ideals of the Declaration of Independence and that, for most of us, celebrating this holiday is a hollow sham, about barbecue and fireworks than liberty.

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