Monday, July 04, 2005

In'dependence' Day

I was just thinking today, on this Independence Day, that our society has lost sight of some very fundamental principles. With all the flag waving, the patriotic songs & slogans, that swell of blind support for all things military or government, we should not forget that this country was fought for & founded upon principles of freedom, democracy, liberty, and equality. And supposedly the wars we've fought since that time has been to preserve that and our way of life. Yet so often these things foundations are attacked. Most notably, the Constitution, and especially the First Amendment.

We see those who seek to destroy the freedoms we hold dear for their own agendas have an increasing influence in our society. It's become mainstream, its infiltrated the mass media, it's bumper stickers and militant attitudes of a people who feel something has been taken away from them, when in reality what they had was never theirs to begin with. They have used their voting power & their voice to silence others, restrict rights - even their own. They have handed the politicians who would further these warped ideologies the reigns of our government.

There is a growing list of those who would stifle the rest, in the name of goodness, decency, the rule of law, peace, security, religion, tradition, even so called 'family values'. Religious Fundamentalists who want a theocracy; anti-abortionists who want the state to mandate health issues based primarily on religious grounds; social conservatives who would censor, limit, & restrict knowledge, art, ideas, even benign lifestyles that are deemed unfit; the frightened & ignorant masses who would gladly give up liberty in exchange for some security.

We hear more fear & hate mongering outcries at any possibility of granting more freedom to our people, of building a deeper sense of equality, as in the case of gay marriage, yet these same people would support banning an ever growing list of behaviors, ideas, and even rights. They would trample the very Constitution and all it stands for even as soldiers & innocents alike die everyday, supposedly protecting those very things we claim to be afraid of losing. Far too many, are far too eager to limit, so quick to judge, so slow to understand, so unwilling to 'live and let live' - 'mind their own backyard'.

Perhaps the most dangerous notions alive today are those of unity, patriotism, and being agreeable. The liberal minded, the libertarians, the peace advocates, the civil rights activists (and the homosexual issue is a civil one), the environmentalists - these are the people that are being shouted down, the ones who are seen as 'too radical', 'rocking the boat', 'just bad for the country'. How ironic considering in most cases, arguments of practicality & ideology aside, these ideas put forth by such people include liberties, equality, compassion, peace, non-violence, tolerance. Ideas that have apparently become dangerous to some, when if anything it is intolerance, violence, war mongering, & bigotry that are the true dangers & lead to misery.

We should remember that this country was founded by rebels, not yes-men. Perhaps one of the most unpatriotic things citizens could be doing now is supporting patriotism for patriotism’s sake; supporting the war because dissent makes us weak; supporting the President because it's war-time; living, thinking, acting in lock step with what the Administration expects from us.

If we surrender our rights of liberty, even for such comfortable things like 'peace', 'security', 'tradition', then we've lost everything worth having. Furthermore if we allow ourselves to suppress our opinions, our dissent, our ability to think & act independently, then we have become very much like a people that we once went to war with - a people that said nothing as the worst horrors of history was unleashed upon humankind by those they set in power. In this so called 'brave new world' that we have been enslaved into, our apathy & obedience is leading us ever more down that slippery slope that ends on the edge of the abyss. Soon, sooner than we know, we could very well be on the brink, and there may be no turning back.

Consider all of this when you’re watching the fireworks, listening to the anthems & patriotic propaganda on this July 4th.

"We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it." - Ernesto Che Guevara

"History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure." - Justice Thurgood Marshall

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." - Louis Brandeis

"Sure we'll have fascism in America, but it'll come disguised as 100% Americanism." - Huey P. Long

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