Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

My maternal grandmother (bless her potty-mouthed little heart) was born on July 4th and when she was a little girl, her parents told her the fireworks were for her birthday. When she learned the truth, it was worse than finding out about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy combined. Can you imagine being so crushed?

I've always been truly proud and grateful to be an American citizen. But it's sad to me to see folks who only claim their pride at special times of the year (like 'Christians' who only go to church on Easter and Christmas) or during stressful times like the days and weeks following 9-11. I don't remember seeing that many flags ever in those weeks following the tragedy. Nor have I seen that many, since. It seems to me that most Americans take what we have for granted, with no appreciation for it all. Especially today, when I speak with so many young people at the day job who have a bizarrely inflated sense of entitlement, instilled  in them (no doubt) by parents who grew up wanting nothing.

America's not perfect, mind you. No society ever can be (and should you find yourself  in one which professes to be so, run!). We still have massive civil rights issues; racism; homophobia; religious persecution; poverty; crime; lack of education... the list goes on and on. But imagine living someplace like North Korea, where a corrupt megalomaniac has set himself up as demigod, while the people he rules suffer the lack of the most basic rights. Or China, where the state still persecutes and tortures those with dissident voices and religion is officially illegal. Imagine yourself as a young girl under Taliban rule, forced to bend to the whims of every man you know, unable to drive; read; think or speak for yourself. Or what if you were a young African woman, sexually mutilated to deliberately deny you your body's natural response to pleasure? 

Evangelist Pat Robertson recently said (and I am paraphrasing here) that Marriage Equality would bring the wrath of God down upon America, as did Sodom and Gomorrah. Really? Well, why hasn't he already done so in the nine countries where Marriage Equality is (and has been) legal? Same Gender Marriage is legal in Argentina; Belgium; Canada; the Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Spain; Sweden and Mexico. Last time I checked, none of those countries have fallen into the sea; been consumed by fire or ravaged by plagues of locusts, frogs or boils. I've heard no reports of anyone turning to salt, either. Have you? So why are we, in 2011, still having this debate? History will record who was wrong, just as it did with the US Civil War; just as it did with Rosa Parks and just as it always will. Progress may be slow, but it is gaining steam everyday. The bigots and fascists will be silenced, as they always are.

On the coat cabinet at my day job's cubicle I have posted a sign with a picture of Uncle Sam in the classic pose. Under the picture are these words: I Want You to Stop Being Afraid of Other Races and Religions; Other Classes and Other Ideals. You're American First. Act Like It!

So I want you to take a moment and think about lucky we are to not only enjoy the freedoms we already have, but to appreciate the fact that we can evolve as a society and allow everyone the same rights as everyone else, something about which I can't imagine our forefathers to be in disagreement. 

I wish you all a safe and Happy Independence Day. Enjoy your cookouts and fireworks. Don't blow yourself (or any part of yourself) up. And take a moment to be thankful for your right to be an idiot, should you blow yourself (or any part of yourself) up. To my readers outside the US (and I know there are at least two of you), Happy (belated) Canada Day and God Save the Queen. And now, this:

And to lighten the mood, this:

More, anon.

1 comment:

Sam Juliano said...

I am taking in an afternoon showing at my home of the film musical 1776, which I have always appreciated more than most, and then some barbeque goodies, and the latest Film Forum presentation of 'Keaton Mondays' at the Film Forum.

Nice to visit your site after too long an absence and wish you a great day!