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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

-Declaration of Independence

I cannot claim the credit for this observation: every nation has a July 4th. Not every nation has an Independence Day. Invariably, today's opinion pieces across the country will use the national holiday as subject for some editorializing. Your dear Henry is no different, but I thought I would take a slightly different approach. Sure, many people will lament the absence of solemnity on this day, as if the holiday has become an excuse for consumerism or debauchery. Profiteers will laud today as a day of sales. Business will remain open, staffed by those who would enjoy nothing more than to celebrate their freedom with beer and hot dogs.

There will also be those who state that President Bush and the Powers That Be have much maligned our system of legal freedoms, sighing that we no longer have what we once did. Others will celebrate the sacrifices of the fallen, the wounded, and those who serve in Iraq and elsewhere. Finally, some will even say that the decline of America started when Major League Baseball adopted the wild-cards and the playoffs.

All of these are, of course, true because they exist in the minds of people who do have real freedom, freedom to think. If we are to believe the exhaustively researched articles presented this past week in the Washington Post, Vice-President Cheney has done a number on the legal protections created by the Founders. If we see the numbers and the faces of the men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can choose to believe they died for a noble cause. Or we can believe their lives are wasted in a fruitless cause, the absurd idea that people elsewhere can govern themselves.

What the events in London this past week demonstrate is that there are those who have freedom to think and there are those who want to take that away. In my opinion, and by God or Allah or Whoever, I have the right to introduce my sentence that way, what we really need to celebrate is not the freedom to act, but the freedom to think. Ugly as it is, those bombers in London have the same rights as the straight-laced Brit. They can think it, malicious and hateful as it is, and that freedom is what people fight to protect.

So, we are in a terrible fix, but the idea is bigger than any one individual or brain-washing terrorist cell or political group. We celebrate Independence Day, warts and all, not on July 4th, but every day.


Anonymous Rodrigo said...

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4:13 AM  
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