Cheers to the philistines and intellectuals. To the legals and illegals. To the flesh eaters and to the grass chewers. To the people who are labeled as black, white, or brown; but not green — Eff you, aliens!
You are all Americans in my book, so lets revel in our adolescent and complex history of the blights of slavery, removals, prohibition, internments, redundant violence at home, redundant violence abroad, segregation, welfare, nannies, big brothers, and so on. Yes, there are many flaws in our country, but what does one expect when the nation was founded on tobacco and drifters. We’ve always attracted the masses — all the good seeds, the bad apples, the rebels and freaks alike — whether we like it or not, The United States is a magnet, for the better or for the worse.
The authors of America convened in Philadelphia and ratified a document that is extraordinarily viable and still (sort of) employed to this day.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
While the opening line of the Declaration of Independence renders my hair to rise from my skin, the stinging, polemical rebuttal by the abolitionist Thomas Day has to humble my fur:
“If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.”
I think there are important variables to take from this exchange. While we should no doubt marvel at our predecessors, and contemporaries, we shouldn’t rush to deify them either. The adage dissent is not disloyalty rings true, and we must not be fearful to criticize, whether that be our friends, complete strangers, or even – and especially – our government.
And that’s what makes America so enticing and attractive, this experiment the founding fathers created was meant to encourage volition, even if they themselves didn’t always abide by their notions, and even at times inhibiting and precluding autonomy. Point being is that they set the foundation for individuality in the new world, which is certainly something to strive for. That doesn’t mean raising your own livestock or manufacturing your own clothing, or refusing to join any organization — society's success relies on human interaction — it’s more geared toward having an opinion that wanders from the herd from time to time.
But, lets not forget that occupying this country doesn’t mean we are entitled to anything and everything. It maybe good to be an American, but I believe the thought of radical openness where we share ideas is the best method to expand and enlighten our existence. In other words, be proud of our culture but don’t be solipsistic about it. We are all made from stardust, we all used to be great apes, and today we are all humans. Whether we pop out of a womb, fly, or float to this land, we’re not given a permanent address, or a mode of transportation, nor a full plate. What we are granted with is the opportunity to achieve, the right to adopt mad thoughts, the euphoria of success, and the education of failure. Political humorist P.J. O’Rouke said it best:
“America wasn't founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damned well pleased.”
We might not be the greatest country, but we’re certainly too compelling to be neglected. Happy Independence Day!