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Column: My July 4 reflections

Posted: July 2, 2018 7:18 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I occasionally am accused of repeating myself, but, hey, some things bear repeating.

For example, I love the Fourth of July  --  everything it represents.

I love the idea of democracy and the way the founding fathers found a way to incorporate its essence into our republic.
Pure democracy is, essentially, the will of the lynch mob, the tyranny of the majority.

They came up with a representative republic which sort of helps us prevent that very regression. We are a nation of laws, theoretically governed by logic and equally applied standard, compromise, and an ability to do things for the common good whether we mean to or not.

Yet, we are able to preserve a healthy dose of individuality. It’s OK to be a little oddball, a little offbeat. It adds spice to the melting pot. That’s good.

I love celebrating the birth of this place we call home, the unimaginably bold step it took for a group of men who knew they were gambling absolutely everything to, basically, tell the most powerful nation on earth to go pound sand. The spirit of rugged independence is something truly marvelous to celebrate and vital to maintain.

I am awed by the supreme eloquence and beauty of the Declaration of Independence -- it’s difficult to think of another document that contains so much power in just a few well chosen and exquisitely deployed words. For all the flowery speech of the times, it gets right to the point -- and make no mistake, that point was blunt and carried great consequence. To wit: we’re going our own way, try and stop us, we’d rather die than exist under your thumb.

Some might call it nothing more than a simple tax revolt. Some might say it’s nothing but a few from a small, privileged class looking out for their own interests.

All I have to say to that is I’ll listen to such when those who say it actually pledge (and are serious about it) all they hold dear. At the moment, such statements reek of a certain cynicism and a palpable unwillingness to back it up with anything real.

Call me crazy, but I tend to err on the side of idealism. It’s just not enough to do something really serious for something as ephemeral and as trite as money; otherwise the Hessians would have won the war for England.

Someone truly serious knows there is a lot more going on.

Personally, I still see Uncle Sam as the guy who takes an unprovoked punch or two, then eventually cold-cocks the jerk who is throwing those punches, then helps the guy up out of the dust and hands him a handkerchief for his bloody nose -- and maybe even buys him a beer.

Some may laugh at that take; I say, go right ahead -- you’re free to do so.

I also agree people do things for different reasons, some less noble than others. But, in order for an idea to really take root, those who embrace it have to believe it’s bigger than just them -- and it has to be a great idea. Freedom to make your own destiny was the driver behind this whole conflict and grand experiment -- and that great idea still holds true.

Or, to put it another way, would you really be willing to essentially author and sign your own death warrant over a tax question? Because that’s exactly what the Declaration of Independence was; had we lost, every one of those men who signed that document would have been crow food swinging in the breeze.

Governments, and the tiny egos associated with them, don’t like to be told to go pound sand. Most folks who have taken that stand, from Babylon to Waco, have usually come to bad ends.

The idea of risking life and sacred honor was very real to these men. They knew exactly what they were doing and what was at stake. They went ahead with it anyway. For that I am grateful.

We are now 242 years into this experiment. Some might say we are reaching the halfway point experienced by the Romans and are circling the drain faster and faster, just like they did. There are days I think the same thing: That it’s only a matter of time until republic morphs into empire before collapsing in a dusty heap.

I am as disgusted with the whining, cupped palms and cries of “you owe me, Mr. Privilege!” just as much as I do the posturing, bloviating -- and very deliberate -- misuse of such otherwise beautiful words as “Patriot” and “Christian.”

There is currently a groundswell of extremism that has long since moved past acceptable levels of tolerance. I believe everyone deserves a chance to say what’s on their mind, but no one needs to get into our collective face about it. That’s asking for trouble that’s totally unecessary.

I sometimes wonder who is behind the curtain rattling that box of assorted loose nuts and bolts. Whoever it is, I still think there’s time to reverse the erosion, if we can just put a few differences aside and realize what is important.

But, I think we’d better hurry.


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