I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of revolutionaries throwing off the yoke of tyranny. I loved it; uncritically. I loved it without thought or question.
As I grew older, and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromise is too light of a word); by war mongering, and profiteering, and slave-holding. As I learned more about these truths, it became self-evident, that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.
Essentially; America was founded on a pack of lies.
The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal and possess, as an inherent aspect of their being, rights which they cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The expression of this truth, and its codification in law, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery; give women the right to own land, to vote, and other rights of self-determination. It did not make unlawful, wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People, the natives. It did not stop us from entering into a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.
The founders applied these principles to themselves, and their “peers,” used it to justify their separation for the dominion of England, and to protect their property after the war of independence had been won.
War and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud; even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are abhorrent.
In my heart I want to celebrate the revolutionaries; their courage, the flag which unifies us, but I find it difficult. The story of the America; beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, established our first industries; and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving them, killing them without mercy, displacing them, outlawing their religion, erasing their language.
Does anyone find that easy?
The Fourth of July should be a time of soul searching deep reflection, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.
Given 1st – 2016.07.04