We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a discussion of the meaning of the 4th of July in the United States.
Yes, it’s great fun to set things on fire. I’ve got things on fire right now, smoking some ribs on my back porch. I plan to set more things on fire tonight, and watch big things go Boom! with my family.
Today we set things on fire. Back when the Declaration of Independence was written, it set hearts and minds on fire. I think we could use some firesetting in today’s hearts and minds as well.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, in 1776, only about 1/3 of the population of the nascent United States supported it. If democracy had been the rule of the day, our nation would not exist, and we likely would still be a protectorate of the British crown. Our nation was not born in support of democracy. It was born in support of freedom. These are two very different things. The Declaration itself states that government exists not to enact the will of the majority, but to protect the rights of all, and retains its power by the consent of the governed.
The consent of the governed.
Think of the injustices and intrusions committed by our government today against its citizens. Think about how you make sure your papers are in order before traveling, you check to see what the government will allow you to carry with you when traveling, you expect to be fondled and photographed if you choose to travel by air, and if you are not white or of mainstream appearance you expect to be stopped and harrassed while you are traveling by any means, even foot. The government spies on us, detains people indefinitely, removes children from loving homes, locks citizens in cages for pursuing their own happiness. The government controls what we can plant, what we can buy, what we can sell, what we can consume. The government can come in and shoot your dog, forcibly extract your bodily fluids, steal your property.
These things will continue to happen only as long as we, the governed, consent. Most of us provide tacit consent by brushing off shocking incidents of government overreach by saying they are the exception, they are not common enough to worry about, “they haven’t come after me.” If enough citizens become aware and remove their consent, then and only then will our path as a nation change. I would never advocate another violent revolution such as the one which birthed our nation, but I do advocate change, through education, information, dialog, and removal of consent.
Happy Independence Day, and may we have more freedom in this coming year than we did in the one before.