As we approach the Fourth of July, I wonder what the future holds for the nation. What would it be like for Americans to simply get on with the business of being Americans without paranoid fear of terrorists, illegal immigrants and national security; without feeling the need for hyper-patriotism celebrating our place as the rightful and only super power in the world; but with a deep recommitment to the ideals and values we treasure in our founding documents and find so easy to ignore or give away?
We are going through a difficult period of retrenchment that will change some of the fundamentals of our economy and our politics. On the economic side it will not take long for China to surpass us as the world’s largest, most powerful economy, and she already owns a huge portion of our national debt. For that reason alone China cannot allow America to fail, and I imagine that many will find it more than humiliating to discover that we have become so beholden to another. But there is more than a silver lining to this scene. Indeed it can be a golden lining.
Without the burden of world leadership resting on our backs alone, even if that was never more than an egotistical delusion, just think of how we could redirect our political energies. Remembering our Declaration of Independence, we could renew our commitment to building a nation free of oppression whether from unjust government policies or unjust personal actions. We could become rededicated to equality of justice and opportunity for all.
Remembering our Constitution, we could renew an effective balance of power between the branches of government with a special emphasis on the restoration of Congressional powers that have so easily seeped into the executive branch. Perhaps we could begin seeing the Bill of Rights as principles to be lived into with integrity of heart and mind rather than as political bludgeons with which to hammer one another into submission.
With conservation a priority, and easy credit a thing of the past, we could rediscover the joy of living as Americans in a society not consumed by out of control consumerism subsumed under piles of products and services of marginal value or utility. It does not mean becoming a poor nation or anything like that. It means being able to live responsibly into our wealth and abundance with a more equitable sharing of both with all. It could mean a much freer free market economy rather than current system that seems so dangerously close to corporate socialism. It could mean a nation so confident and content with its place in the world that it would have no fear of living and working compatibly with as many others as are also so willing.
The problem with this vision is that it will anger those who can only envision America through the lens of pugilistic patriotism that hankers for a fight and suspects anything less as being un-American. To put it bluntly, that kind of right wing nationalism has been the death knell of many an empire. I’d not like to see that happen to us. I prefer that we live into and up to the highest standards of our founding documents and become a bright, and highly respected, beacon of freedom in the world.
10 thoughts on “Preparing for the Fourth of July”
CP, I\’ve been pondering the second sentence of this post. Isn\’t paranoid fear of terrorists, illegal immigrants and national security a part of the business of being Americans? I wonder sometimes. I do think that it seems to be a part of our national character to be in fear of one thing or another. It seems to have been a part of our history. Perhaps that is why it was so easy for the present administration to succeed in making us afraid. We were already primed for it.Sorry to be the voice of cynicism here…sort of…. ;)Cheers
Dear Cynic,Thanks for the note. The history of paranoid fear of immigrants seems to me to be well documented, but I suspect that the broader paranoid fear of the world itself may have originated with the Cold War. In my youth we watched dozens of films in school about the danger and likelihood of The Bomb, practiced duck and cover, and knew where all the fallout shelters were. Commies were everywhere. \”I Led Three Lives\” was a popular early tv show. Barry Goldwater rattled the saber. The domino theory that if Vietnam fell so would the whole of S.E. Asia was widely believed. The nation was well primed for fear. Some forms of fundamentalist Christianity that leave their followers trembling in fear of a wrathful God only added coals to the fire since either God\’s wrath or the works of the devil could be seen behind every dark curtain. Or so it seems to me.
I suppose some would view both comments from hm and cp as somewhat cynical and un-American but then they probably won\’t comment with their views.My optimistic view, again some would say my naivete, yearns for the next nation\’s leader to work through diplomacy and interactive knowledge of global cultures to secure a \”less fearful\” America.
CP,I think you are right on the mark with your analysis. 🙂
I look forward to a time when engagement has a chance to replace sanctions and invasion as tools to promote \”good\” according to the standards of our leaders. The popular style of the last several years seems to have been akin to the cartoon with the caption, \”The beatings will stop when morale improves.\”It seems to me that many take advantage of government by using it to create problems from which only government can save us. It is a protection racket of monstrous scale.It took me about 50 years to begin comprehending the value of understanding history. Unfortunately, I fear that I may be among the accelerated learning group. That is indeed a scary thought.
Geezer,A good read from a gifted historian who writes more like a novelist might be McDougall\’s Let the Sea Make a Noise. It\’s the history of the North Pacific lands, and, oddly enough, he includes the story of Texas as a part of that. That ought to catch your attention.CP
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As I celebrate Canada Day, I will ponder you preparig to celebrate Independence Day.Compare and contrast \”Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness\” with \”Peace, Order and Good Government.\” Discuss.
If I understand it correctly, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were very much the same thing as peace, order and good government in the minds of Thos. Jefferson and friends. I don\’t think he ever thought of it as an individual pursuit of good times apart from the good of society as a whole. Having said that, I am woefully illiterate about the details of his philosophical underpinnings. So, Happy Canada Day!!! Which reminds me, Dr. Kraig Scott, music director at St. Paul\’s Walla Walla is Canadian and one of the nation\’s truly gifted organists. I have yet to experience a Canada Day when he did not throw in O Canada under some other anthem, often something from Bach. It goes almost unheard by all but a a few musicians, and you can tell they got it from their muffled giggles. CP
On the whole, I don\’t think that Americans are paranoid, terrified of terrorists or illegal immigrants, or overly focused on national security. I don\’t think that the present administration has made us afraid — and I don\’t think that was its goal, either.Finally, I don\’t think that patriotism equals nationalism.Interesting blog post, and interesting comments.