Independence (To)Day

photostudio_1499193749123Last Saturday night, my wife and I attended Stadium of Fire, an Independence Day extravagana sponsored by the America’s Freedom Festival at LaVell Edwards Stadium on the campus of BYU.   It was a grand celebration of patriotism, featuring a skydiving team trailing an American Flag, a flyover during the presentation of the colors and a stirring National Anthem by a 14 year old singer from The Voice.60,000 people recited the Pledge of Allegiance, something an old guy so far from grammar school rarely gets to do any more.  I have to admit, I photostudio_1499193693175teared up.  I consider myself a patriot, you see.   There were two country music acts, a comedian and several dance routines, each dedicated to our servicemen with the voiciferous support of the crowd.    And there was an unbelievable fireworks show set to that most American of music, Rock and Roll, as well as an assortment of patriotic tunes. Between Saturday and today, Independence Day, evenings have been punctuated with explosions and aerial displays, delighting the kids but scaring the crap oout of the dogs.  You see, fireworks are legal here in Utah where we are spending the 4th with our grandkids.

My love of 4th of July traditions and patriotic pride is tempered this year the state of our country.   It would be easy to make this an attack on our Game Show President, but he is largely a reflection of changes in the beliefs and behavior of much of our citizenry.  And that of our media, fueled by that quagmire known as social media.   Extremists who believe that the other side is an enemy to be annihilated have always been part of our political landscape but these days I see friends … good people I love … who to my eyes, fit in that category.   There have always been extreme politicians who place their opinions above those of the citizens they represent but they have never been a majority.  Our press has always predictably taken sides, but never with a vememence that makes facts fictional.

Perhaps a look back at the preamble of Declaration of Independence is appropriate.   It has been said that this simple statement is the moral basis of the American democracy: 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.   In an excellent article on the Declaration, Politico writer David Greenberg said, Today, when it often feels as if Americans are spiraling apart, becoming less connected to our political leaders and less bound to one another, it’s worth remembering what made independence possible wasn’t just a spirit of rebellion; it was the way that spirit was harnessed to a newfound commitment to self-government across the diverse colonies. What we celebrate today isn’t only the colonists’ unity in rejecting British rule but also the condition that made it possible: the trust that the colonists placed a group of leaders tasked with a historic decision, and the fidelity those leaders showed to the people’s wishes. We celebrate not just independence but also democracy.

It is not our politicians who will bring us back to what we were meant to be … it is our citizens.   Wouldn’t it be nice if on this Independnce Day, we stopped shouting (STOPPED TWEETING).  Started listening and being open to the possibility that the other side simply disagrees.   Began the process of relearning how to agree to disagree without disparagement.   Began moving our political discourse out of the anonymous space of social media and talked face to face where we can rediscover that we are not enemies.   How about rediscovering compromise?   Now, that would be worth some fireworks.

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One Comment on “Independence (To)Day”

  1. rita altman Says:

    Bud-

    Loved what you said and it is SO very true. What has become of our citizenry and where are we going? I find it very frightening!


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