Monday, July 03, 2006  

Happy 4th

to all my friends and family out there as well as the country in general.

As we stand on the threshold of this, our 230th year, we should pause to think of what made this country the great experiment that it has been. Among those qualities has been the ability to take in immigrants, legal and illegal and to imbue them with a greater sense of community that includes a commitment to the principles of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
And it is based on the ability of those immigrants to trust and believe that the things that plagued them and their predecessors - famine, progroms, government surveillance, religious bigotry, racial hatred, denial of education and employment opportunities, would not be visited upon their descendents. Many fought not in the army of the land of their birth but in the army of the land of their choosing to defend and preserve what they hoped would be their collective legacy to their children.
Native Americans suffered egregiously at the hands of Manifest Destiny, and yet the Navajo Code Talkers contributed to the victory of the Greatest Generation.
African Americans, the "unwilling" immigrants for whom "all men are equal" arrived almost too late, still look to the promise of what this country stands for and even in their darkest hour, held a secret hope that Martin Luther King's words would move the mainstream to honor their debt and commitment to their brethren.

Forty years later, we stand at almost the same place at which Martin Luther King addressed us. Many things have changed. Lunch counters are no longer segregated. Whites Only signs are not only unthinkable but incomprehensible.
Nonethless, we risk slipping back as the Congress drags its feet over the voting rights act, but as we have seen in Florida and in the armed forces, it is still needed.
Again we are involved in an immoral war which promises to make monsters of compromise and complicity of us all, the longer it drags on. A paranoid administration again occupies the White House, although its obsession with secrecy and data acquisition stems not from the bottomless personal paranoia of one man but from the carefully rationalized fear of the citizen democrat that naturally plagues an oligarchy.
Listen again as Martin Luther King, Jr. calls us back to our better selves:
Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.(snip)
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."(the rest)
These are words that ring down the years.
On July 4, take a few minutes to contemplate who "we" are, have we honored those who came before us, have we honored the sacrifice of the Native American, honored the "hope of the slave?"
Is this war within and without what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights promised us? What we will promise those who come after us?

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