Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

The fourth of July is another one of those holidays that makes me think about the past. My past. My family's past. Every citizen's past.

But for a small group of rebels, tired of being used and abused, this country might never be. We might still be citizens of the United Kingdom. Now I have nothing against the UK. In fact, I'm a bit of an Anglophile, truth be told. But I think the world would have suffered for the lack of an independent nation of people that will look at one another and say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

You know the best speech about democracy I ever heard was in a romantic comedy. A movie I expected to be fun and full of fluff. Yes, there was fluff. There was romance. There was fun. But there was also this incredibly powerful scene. I'm talking about The American President and the speech was recited by Michael Douglas. In part....

"...America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free'. "

I loved the movie because it was a great romantic comedy. But what I loved best about that movie was that quote. It gave me chills. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There aren't a lot of speeches that do that to me. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" and JFK's Inaugural are the top two that come to mind. I'm sure there are others, but I can listen to those and find some new nuance every time.

Now you may not agree with me, but that's okay. That's what it's about. Dissent without fear. Protest without being labeled a traitor. That's why I'm thankful to live here.

Let it always be the law of the land!

Happy Independence Day everyone!

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