Mixed Feelings on America’s 242nd

I’ve wanted to write a post for the 4th but I’ve been constantly stymied. I want to praise the ideals of the country, but our current situation has sapped that praise. Frankly, I don’t like a large swath of Americans right now.

Then there’s the historical reality of how, regardless of our big talk of freedom, too many people aren’t treated as free by their government, it’s industry, or many of their fellow citizens. As each year goes by, I grow increasingly disheartened that the fundamental failures of the American experiment outweigh its occasional successes.

Consider all we’ve put up with in the name of patriotism mostly for the benefit of the same faces that founded the country: white, male, and privileged. I know that having a white male face affords me better consideration than if it were if I were born otherwise. Freedom shouldn’t be based on an accident of cellular nucleotides. Perhaps it was written into the country’s own genetic code when the following was removed from the Declaration of Independence during debate:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. […]

— rough draft, Declaration of Independence, 1776

With SC, GA, and Northern profiteering delegates getting the above deleted, we ensured that subjugation by a few on the many would be sound of freedom. Whether that oppression was based on skin color, gender, economic struggle, or any of a myriad of other targets, the powered in America have consistently embraced the concept of limiting the inherent liberties of many for the full expression of rights of a few.

And yet, I still cling to a thread of hope in the midst of my abject disappointment. A lot of Americans are of a good heart. They are generous and more attuned to our humanity and to the stew that has been the common soul of America than an entire Congress filled with miscreants and snollygosters. A sense of fairness and accommodation is something that we often point to as the best of us. It’s still there. And so I hope.

Whatever happens as the nation deals with it’s current fetid cesspool of political and judicial seditionists, I do know most of the common people are worthy of the promise of America. It’s for them I resist those eager to distort it. It’s for all of us in that roiling, inclusive soup of freedom and bravery to persist in fighting those who would invade our privacy, take an axe to our natural rights as people, and who have more interest in their own profit and power than in the true wealth of our nation.

The greatness of America has been and must be the belief the people have in it. It only requires that the people understand what America, all of America, is. That doesn’t come from platitudes but from study and observation. We have to embrace our high-minded ideals as well as learn from our abominable failures. If we are ever going to build a land worthy of our intentions, we need to pay in full that debt to our future posterity.

On this celebration of July 4th, the colors I salute aren’t those in the flag. They are found in the brews of coffee — a drink enjoyed, savored, and even craved by most — with its variations stretching from a milky white through to a rich mocha. America, the actual America of, by, and for the people, isn’t found in a melting pot, it’s actually in our diners, cafes, and in offices and kitchens throughout the land. That is America. All we can hope is that the people will continue fighting for it as enthusiastically as they will their precious “cuppa joe”.

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