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  • Saturday, July 02, 2005


    Freedom Isn't Just Another Word

    The Fourth of July holiday is not really one of my favorites. The fireworks displays are nice but I mostly try to avoid the drunk drivers. Excessive use of "patriotic" symbols does not, in my opinion, confer actual dedication to the founding principles of the United States of America. Most of what I see being paraded around is arrogant nationalist fervor, a fierce jingoism writ large.

    I think a much better use of the holiday is to actually read the documents that are our heritage as citizens of the USA. Singing "God Bless America" or "The Star Spangled Banner" may afford many people with a sentimental rush but their emotional appeals strike me as hollow reinforcements of reflexive and blind patriotism. I know that sharing these experiences are supposed to bond us together as a diverse people, as a nation. Yet I want something more than symbols to celebrate, more than red, white and blue bunting, more than the myriad flags blossoming everywhere.

    I know this statement is a tired saw but I am a patriot. I desire peace and prosperity for our nation. I desire justice for all people. I desire freedom to speak my opinions. I believe in an engaged citizenry, participating in the democratic processes of our country. The songs and flag waving, not so much.

    Over at the National Archives are transcripts of our nation's core documents: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These links are to the transcripts rather than the main pages for the documents. Try reading them. Yeah, some parts are stilted, some parts are difficult to understand but they are our country's foundation and they are our heritage. Almost everything in our national laws and structures derives from these documents. So take a little time this July to reaquaint yourself with them. They're not perfect or infallible. They are human constructs for a human society.

    This is PBU27, another in a series of more or less weekly posts inspired by and in conjunction with the Progressive Blogger Union. Searching on "PBU27 progressive" (no quotes) should bring up other posts on this subject. (Adding "progressive" to the "PBU27" seems to cut down on false positive results.)

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