So it’s June. A week after Memorial Day and a month before one of my two favorite holidays: Independence Day. And as with the approach of every Independence Day I am struck by the difference between Independence Day and my other favorite holiday: Christmas…or more accurately the Christmas season.
Christmas gets a whole month to celebrate. From Black Friday to New Year’s Day people are little happier, a little nicer, a little more willing to let the best in them come out because they want to celebrate. It’s a whole month of festivity and joy, parties, decoration, music, food, friends, special films that are for that season and that season alone, and yes finally gifts. A whole season.
The 4th of July gets a day. Hell even Halloween gets treated better with a whole season.
There is something wrong here. But, I know someone is about to say, “Christmas (and Chanukah, Solstice, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s) is a religious holiday, directly tied to our relationship to God.” No really someone actually tried that on me once. To which I can only respond, “And you don’t see anything of the divine in Independence Day?”
I know liberals, and probably libertarians as well, have a problem with this, but there is something truly special about this nation.
I was for Romney before I heard it him say, but when at an Arizona rally he said [and this is not word for word as I’m going off memory] “Some people believe that our Declaration and Constitution were written by very brilliant men, others believe that they were divinely inspired when they wrote it—I believe it was a bit of both” it was at that moment that all my worries about Romney faded. This was a man who got it. He saw that the documents were written by men, albeit brilliant men, but men nonetheless, who were capable of error and thus you could not claim absolute perfection in their
documents…but he also saw that the beliefs and ideas in these documents represented an immeasurable leap forward in human society and that at some level the hand of God was present. Name for me a time when you would have an Adams, a Jefferson, a Washington, a Franklin all in the same room together. History provides few men of such insight, intelligence, and character (not that they were perfect, but they were certainly ahead of their time by massive steps); occasionally you get two of them together at the same time; at very special moments you get three together at once…at both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention you had whole rooms of these men. Please tell me of another time in history when you had such a grouping (and to see it happen twice in one generation). To a group of men who believed in ideals of right and true being more important than their personal fortunes (a good portion of the signers of the Declaration went broke, many were tortured all of them suffered for signing that document…not one recanted their signature.) How do you not see the hand of providence in that?
How do you not see it in:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Please tell me which passage of the Tanakh, the New Testament, the teaching of Buddha, the Gita, the Tao or any other holy book surpasses that passage in it’s understanding of the relationship between God and man (that we are given free will and liberty by our creator with the expectation that we will use them), that understands the teleology, the purpose, the end of life (to achieve Happiness), and how men should treat one another (not violating the rights of others, but settling up a society to protect them from those that do seek to violate those rights). The heart of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics answered correctly in one sentence. And you don’t think God had anything to do with that? Do you see the hand of God in anything?
And then you look at our history. Time and time again, if Vegas odds makers had existed from the 1750’s to today, you would have bet against the survival of the U.S. over and over again. Yet somehow we’re still here. The history of America is often the history of convenient accidents. Convenient in that reinforcements were mistakenly diverted from helping General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, letting the Americans win when they most needed a win. Convenient that when Lee, a general of unquestionable skill, was a week’s march from capturing D.C. he has the 3 dumbest days of his life at a little town in Pennsylvania. Convenient that all of our carriers were out of harbor on December 6. To name a few, there are so many others. You can believe in chance, I don’t.
We make mistakes, and dear God have we made some abhorrent ones. Liberals love to point out all the evil things we have done, ignoring that at anytime in history, we didn’t even rank in anything but the top third of what the rest of the world was doing at that time. Oh and I know pointing that out is wrong, because that’s their culture. Oh that’s right anyone else does something worse than America and it’s racist to hold them to the same standard…but we have to hold America to the standard of perfection (which, ironically, shows that even liberals believe in American Exceptionalism, otherwise why hold it and it alone to such a standard). We’re not perfect, no one is. But we have always been the beacon that sings to the best in humanity, not the example that speaks to the worst.
We’re the nation that fought to create a republic where the haves and have nots gave equal measure. We’re the nation that fought our own citizens to free slaves. We’re the nation that pioneered capitalism and law that gave liberty and opportunity and progress to more people than any other country in history. We’re the place where “tired, the poor, the huddled masses” come to be energetic, successful and stand on their own feet. We’re the country that conquers whole nations so that others may be free then tries to rebuild them and then leaves without tribute or power. If you don’t think we’re the “shinning city on the hill” you don’t know history, philosophy or human nature. We’re not perfect, we’re not always right, but we are consistently the nation that calls for the best in humanity to put down the worst.
But to celebrate the greatest nation in history, we have a day. Barbeque, fireworks. Woo-hoo! Seems a bit off doesn’t it. Granted, patriotism should be a year long habit, not just a seasonal or single day event…but the same can be said of all the ideals of the December Holiday season, so that’s not an argument.
Too often I think people forget that this is a nation where people still regularly risk their life to get to. America-or-die isn’t a slogan it’s of a fact of existence. Whether you were born here or came here you should take more than just a day out of every year to remember what a blessing this country is. Of course there are some ignorant jackasses out there, who don’t seem to understand this blessing who say “I didn’t sign up for a country that’s the rest of the world’s police, I just happened to be born into it.” (We’ll get into the petty ignorance and evil of the world police thing later.)
I don’t know what we could do to make our celebration of our nation and what is good about it longer than a single day…it should be from Memorial Day to Independence Day, but it’s not. Maybe it’s that there are so many holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s that make it a season. That’s easily solved. Let’s move tax day and Election Day to July 2nd (the day the Continental Congress actually voted on the Declaration). I think we should always keep in mind what we’re voting for so by placing election day on the same day as the vote of the Declaration would work just fine by me and by moving tax day to the same day we can remember what control the people we’re voting for have control over (instead of almost 7 months after they’ve stolen from you and your hatred for the libertines with your money has faded).
For my part it’s going to be a couple months since I’ve done a series of movies, and so starting tomorrow we will count down the best patriotic films as well as a few blogs about what it is that makes America so special.
And perhaps, just perhaps I’ll start convincing you to start decorating the house from Memorial Day to the 4th with flags and symbols of patriotism like you would at Christmas with wreaths and trees. Maybe just maybe I’ll be able to kindle a sense of heightened patriotism that isn’t just for a day but for a season, which may have residual effect through the year. And with any luck this will spread to even more people.