Tag Archive | "independence"

Independence Day, The Fourth of July

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In the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, Earth is invaded by aliens with intent to exterminate all mankind.  The United States, devastated by the destruction of its major cities and death of most of its leaders, plans and coordinates a global counter-attack as a last ditch effort to destroy the alien invaders.  The counter-attack occurs on July 4th, Independence Day.

 

In a stirring speech to the ragtag group of pilots – both military and civilian – that are to carry out the American component of the mission, the President – portrayed by Bill Pullman – inspires the troops with the following words:

 

“Perhaps it’s fate that today is July the Fourth, and you will once again fight for our freedom.  Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression.  But from annihilation.  We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.  And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be remembered as an American holiday but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night.  We will not vanish without a fight.  We’re going to live on.  We’re going to survive.  Today, we declare our Independence Day.”

 

Of course, the American offensive is successful and demonstrates to the rest of the world how to defeat the aliens.  In a spectacular “Hollywood ending,” fireworks streak through the sky as the debris from the exploded Mother Ship enters the atmosphere like thousands of shooting stars.

 

The film, whose title is eponymous with the American holiday commemorating the adoption of our Declaration of Independence from England, celebrates freedom – in this instance, freedom from annihilation by malevolent alien beings.  And, freedom is a state of being to which all humankind aspires.  This is just as true in 2012 as it was in 1776.

 

236 years after our American Revolution, much of the world finds itself in the midst of cultural and political revolutions.  In the 23 years following the Tiananmen Square protests, China has witnessed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to grow unabated and has become the driving force in its economy.  Subsequent to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Russia and most of the former Soviet bloc states have embraced democratic principles that have defied recidivism to their authoritarian roots despite economic hardships and uncertainties.

 

And, most recently, the Arab Spring has dramatically changed the face of the Middle East.  Since its inception in December 2010, this revolutionary wave has displaced longstanding leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt.  Civil uprisings have erupted in Syria and Bahrain, along with major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco.  Minor protests have occurred in Arab states including Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Iran.

 

It appears that in every part of the world, people yearn for freedom and self-determination.  But, in words attributed to Thomas Jefferson, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”  And so, as people in most of the rest of the world gain more freedom, Americans must remain on guard against infringements on the freedoms we have historically held dear.

 

As was proved by the Supreme Court decision of last week that upheld the Constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act – otherwise known as Obamacare, our growing federal government can now mandate how citizens spend their money – penalizing those who do not comply.  When considered along with continuing efforts by some in our federal government to limit the right of our citizens to bear arms and the confiscatory nature of our federal and state systems of taxation, Americans should remain cognizant of how rapidly concerns for security can slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.

 

So, as you enjoy a day off from work, perhaps a family barbecue, and a fireworks display, think about what freedom means to you and remain vigilant in its defense.

 

 

 

Start Paddling

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Unique in the animal kingdom is the length of time required for maturity of the human animal.  Given the cognitive abilities of man, the process of development for a fully-functioning human being is not merely physical, but also intellectual, psychological, and social.  And, as society becomes ever more civilized and highly developed, the nurturing and education of humans becomes an increasingly demanding task, commanding more time and resources.


Because of our extended periods of development, we humans, more than any other species, come to rely upon the assistance of others as an integral part of life.  Civilization could not have reached its current level of social and technological advancement without man’s abilities to study, learn, reason, communicate, and invent.  Working both independently and as members of teams, we have built a technological edifice upon the discoveries and inventiveness of our forebears and each other.  Our world today is so multifaceted, complex, and technically sophisticated that no one individual can hope to grasp all of its intricacies.  For that reason alone, we all must rely upon scores of others on a daily basis for our collective well-being and survival.


Reliance on others, however, should not extend to areas in which individuals can accommodate themselves.  In a climate in which we rely so heavily upon the contributions of others, it is not surprising that some members of society delay or forego personal self-reliance at the expense of others.  These others upon whom reliance is placed may be friends, family members, or society at large.


In America today, it is not unusual to witness adults residing with and supported by their parents well into their twenties, thirties, and beyond.  Far more common is the scenario in which businesses or careers are secured or conferred upon adult children, regardless of qualifications or talents, by parents, other relatives, or friends.  Not uncommon and yet, highly controversial are sundry public employment and assistance programs.


In each of these scenarios, there may be valid reasons or extenuating circumstances for delayed or foregone self-reliance.  Nonetheless, in many cases, there is no viable rationale.  Unlike other members of the animal kingdom, we humans can avoid responsibility and self-reliance by choice, provided there are others willing and able to carry our burdens.


Of course, if we rely on others for our sustenance or livelihood, we may not achieve the lifestyles we desire.  Under these circumstances, if our lives fall short of our expectations, we will have achieved what we deserve, with no one to blame but ourselves.  In the United States of the early nineteenth century, “paddle your own boat” was a popular expression extolling the virtue of self-reliance.  For a better, more fulfilling life, start paddling. 


Whatever Happened to our Independence?

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Here we are once again: awaiting the day that we have marked to celebrate our independence from England through the birth of a new nation in 1776.


To most Americans, Independence Day is ushered in with picnics, cookouts, or visits to the seashore or mountains.  Whether in a park, on a city balcony, or from our TV screens, most of us will view the fireworks displays as the day’s culmination.  But in celebrating the Fourth of July, how independent are we, truly, as a people and a nation?


In 1776, the people and nation experienced the dream of being set free from tyranny (taxation without representation in England’s Parliament).  This was an era when men and women were responsible for carving out their own destinies.  Then, America was wide open, a vast and as yet largely unexplored land holding the promise of unlimited opportunities.


From the wilderness, pioneers created log cabin homes, farms, and eventually, towns and cities.  Basically, these hardy, brave settlers lived off the land for food, shelter, and clothing, with the raw materials supplied by Mother Nature.  Those were the days when we were truly independent.


Two hundred and thirty five years later (the year 2011), how things have changed!  America no longer has the unencumbered opportunity and land to equate to true independence. Government, major financial institutions, and legislation have all changed the true meaning of independence.


True home ownership will never exist in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because such undertakings are encumbered by taxation and interest charges. One would think that the freedom for which we fought as a new nation would protect honest homeowners from such situations.  These situations include the Sword of Damocles known as potential loss of home due to a recession that is, in actuality, a lot closer to an actual depression.  So much for the time-honored cliché, “A man’s home is his castle.”  Or a woman’s, for that matter.


Since the birth of this nation, government has manipulated laws and taxation to created dynasties; they’ve dubbed these dynasties “Departments.”  Each Department has a Head as well as lots of staff whose salaries and perks have added to our country’s financial woes.  The taxation that we viewed as unjust, the taxation that stimulated the birth of the United States of America, has now become stifling to our independence.  We have, you see, become more and more dependent for our very existence upon our ever-ravenous, tax-siphoning government. 


On July 4th, 2011, as we watch the display of fireworks and other entertainment in Washington DC, try not to choke on your hot dog or hamburger when they hand you the bill.  What bill?  Why, the one that will incur more taxes for average citizens due to the cost of the DC celebrations, of course!


How strange and unjust and plain insane is it, to view such costly festivities on national TV, including patriotic songs, Old Glory waving proudly, and “bombs bursting in air” in a country that is going broke?  When you have the answer to that, you’ll also have the answer to the question, “Whatever happened to our independence?” 


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