As the Fourth of July weekend approaches there should be the thought of freedom on the minds of Americans across this nation, celebrating 228 years as an independent country founded upon the principles of freedom, but it will be an unfortunate turn of events this weekend as there will be given very little thought as to how that concept has changed.
There will be fireworks, barbecues, family reunions, sparklers, and music. The Stars and Stripes will be on full display as one and all unfurl their patriotism. There will be much revelry and fun. But, there will be little reflection.
The nation that sprang forth with the signing of a document, The Declaration of Independence, by a group of men representing colonists bent on changing the restrictive and overreaching hand of governance and the opportunity to practice religious tolerance is a mere shade of its former self.
The socio-psychological makeup was one of unity (except for those who were Tories and supported the British Crown), all determined to become self-ruling with an eye on equality, fair taxation, and equal representation. The socio-psychological makeup present today is a joke in comparison.
Today’s society, once grounded in the ethical understanding of a fellow man’s right to “life, liberty, and and the pursuit of happiness”, has become a splintered collection of special interests all determined to advance their agenda regardless of the fallout to the first democratic government in existence. Subterfuge and manipulation have replaced tolerance and compromise.
There is a sense of entitlement coupled with an undying conviction of being in the right running rampant through our society. Special interest groups have replaced community. Religion, once a domain in which “freedom of” and “freedom from” was interchangeable, has begun to wear away at the Constitution, one small piece at a time.
Where dissension from the majority was once accepted as a byproduct of a democratic society and fundamental not only to maintain its existence but was expected where debate and compromise are a necessity to govern such a gruel of ethnicities, heritages, beliefs, and backgrounds … such is no longer the case.
Respect for a minority opinion or belief has been replaced by castigation and irrefutable claims of anti-Americanism or the slanderous statement of a failure to be a patriot. No one is an American anymore, having been replaced by Liberal, Conservative, Pro Choice, Pro Life, anti-fur, pro-gay marriage, homophobe, and on ad infinitum, reducing each of us to a label. But, labels are safe because if you know the label you know the ingredients, and let’s face it, it’s the fear of the unknown that causes people to lose the most sleep.
The days of true patriots may have come and gone in America, and not the shedding blood for the country kind, but the statesman, activist, and regular Joe off the street capable of hearing the opposition, understanding there will NEVER be consensus and laying aside his biases to do what’s best for the whole…not just a single niche.
You may be able to celebrate this weekend, but the questions are, as you look back over the years of history behind us, difficult to ponder and even more troubling to answer: Is this truly freedom and what did I do or not do to bring us here?