Independence Day

Looking back over some of my posts I worry that I may be taken for indulging in America bashing. Now this is simply not the case, as my many American chums would confirm. I bash US policies run by foolish US politicians or ridicule foolish or excessive actions and remarks by US citizens. But then I do this in a most equitable manner to all nations, including (and often especially) my own. Besides the freedom to employ withering sarcasm and political satire is one of the freedoms America was founded on. But today is Independence Day so as my US chums settle down for a holiday weekend which I hope they get to enjoy peacefully I thought I’d be positive for once and look at some of the fine things to come from the events of 1776.

Without America there would have been no Wright Brothers at Kittyhawk. Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell may never have finished his telephone if he had not emigrated. No moon walk. No Marylin Monroe, no Elvis Presly and rock and roll. No Snoopy and Charlie Brown, no Simpsons! And personally – and more importantly to me – I’d be missing some very good friends from that remarkable land.

No Gettysburg address, a history that would have been bereft of the special wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. No Declaration of Independence. Yes, I know that the ideals embodied in that document are very often fallen short of. Ideals often are, it does not mean we should abandon them. Yes it was written by men who owned slaves while espousing freedom, equality while they looked down on the lower class masses and ignored the rights of women (despite the calls of more than one of the signatories wives). Still it is for the time an utterly remarkable document, ahead of it’s time in the way that the Declaration of Arbroath was in 1320 (several signatories were thought ot be inspired by this document in 1776). Yes both were a form of propoganda but they were also the affirmation of a tenous dream. “We hold these truths to be self evident… That all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights… Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Perhaps these sentiments have been honoured rather less than they should have and greedy individuals often usurp the American Dream. That is not the fault of the Dream however and the words of Tom Paine and Jefferson and others are still stirring and inspiring. George Bush and his ilk do no honour to that fine document that they are pledged to serve. But this simply means that the citizens need to dream harder and strive increasingly to meet those lofty goals. Happy birthday, Sam.