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US birthday maunderings

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  • Warren Ockrassa
    Apropos of nothing particularly in discussion, here s something I sent someplace else; in that forum a few regulars are teens, and they re Good Kids™
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4 8:22 PM
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      Apropos of nothing particularly in discussion, here's something I sent
      someplace else; in that forum a few regulars are teens, and they're
      Good Kids™ (despite my presence ;). There's surely some subtle
      propaganda here, but you know, I don't think it's *bad* propaganda.

      I titled it "Freedom = Independence = Responsibility".

      ====

      This is way off topic but what the hey.

      So it's July 4th and for Americans, the day is special — it signifies
      the beginning of our national identity.

      229 years ago, America didn't exist as a nation. What was in Arizona
      was primarily a cluster of cliff- and hut-dwelling cultures to whom the
      Clovis Point was still relatively recent in terms of the arms race,
      even though it was several thousand years old by then. The Spanish had
      certainly made their mark in South and Central America, but this far
      north most of the lands were under the influence of people who had
      never seen a European.

      Meanwhile, on the eastern coast of the north American continent, some
      colonies settled by political refugees had begun to flourish and
      thrive. Well, "thrive" in a relative sense. Voiced people were
      primarily Caucasians, males, those who owned land. American aborigines
      were not doing as well as could be hoped, though they'd signed some
      treaties by then and even traded plots of land for material goods —
      most notoriously, Manhattan island for some beads. No one with black
      skin was considered a man, so they weren't counted by the measures of
      the day.

      In a short time the Revolutionary War would start. Eventually it would
      birth America, but before then, prison ships anchored in mud flats off
      New York would house nearly as many prisoners of war (American) as the
      numbers fighting in the revolutionary war — and of those prisoned, four
      in five would die in those ships of malnourishment, disease and
      torture.

      Young bucks, hotbloods such as Thomas Jefferson (in his 20s) would join
      forces with aged statesmen such as Ben Franklin (in his 60s) to forge
      not one, but two seminal documents — the US Declaration of
      Independence, signed and ratified by a majority of colonies on 4 July
      1776 in Philadelphia, and later the US Constitution and Bill of Rights
      (the first 10 amendments) in the 1780s. It was the American Revolution
      that seeded the French Revolution of the late 1700s, and which would
      serve as an inspiration for other nations to form in later decades and
      centuries. The genie, let forth that hot summer's day in Pennsylvania,
      could not be rebottled.

      In the last two and a quarter centuries we have seen and been in wars
      of independence. We've helped a few and made a few happen that
      otherwise would not have. We're caught now in trying to liberate yet
      another nation, possibly prematurely. Over two centuries, we've sent
      thousands — hundreds of thousands — to die in the name of freedom, on
      such battlefields as Gettysburg and Normandy; and we've killed
      thousands — hundreds of thousands — in the name of shaping the world to
      our vision, in places such as the American plains or Baghdad.

      Suffering is a pervasive fact of life. It cannot be escaped, and the
      more time goes by, the more I look at history and news, the more I
      think that it is our first duty to relieve suffering wherever it might
      be found. This also means not adding to suffering, not making more
      bleed than currently are, especially in the name of imposing an ideal
      that some might not share.

      Freedom is wonderful. Without it, we would not have the internet, Web
      or this forum for discussion. But it comes at a heavy price, too often
      levied in quarts of blood. And as much as it makes sense to us, there
      are some for whom it's a disturbing idea. Not wrong; not evil; just
      unsettling.

      For instance, imagine that, at eight years of age, your parents had
      given you the keys to the house, the car, and a credit card, and told
      you to fend for yourself. What would have begun as a lark would have
      quickly disintegrated into chaos; too much freedom when you are not
      ready for it is frightening and can quickly turn to disaster.
      Similarly, there are peoples and cultures today to whom our idea of
      freedom looks a lot more like anarchy, total social disorder, an
      experiment running rapidly toward disaster.

      Maybe that's possible. Maybe, if we don't exercise responsibility,
      awareness, wisdom and diligence in our decisions as citizens,
      individuals, free men and women and voters, then yes, maybe we're in
      trouble. Or maybe we're not.

      We must behave responsibly, intelligently and with insight and
      foresight; these are the seeds of wisdom. Wisdom is not a component of
      age. You don't get suddenly more wise when you're 60 or 70 or 80; you
      just get older, that's all. Wisdom requires thought and consideration
      and depth of thought and intellect, and is not given at any arbitrary
      calendrical milestone.

      Similarly foolishness is not the bourne of the young; it is possible to
      be very old and very foolish at the same time.

      Be young, be free, but be wise and responsible. That is what our nation
      signifies best to the world — the eternal hope of youth, the brash
      willingness to be free in the face of overwhelming odds; but the wisdom
      also to show restraint and self-control, to not spread sorrow where it
      does not need to take root.

      Fireworks glow and as they do let them kindle your breasts for this
      ideal, and let's not forget the men and women now and before who have
      put themselves in harm's way for all of us — soldiers, yes, but
      civilian hereos too, from firemen to traffic cops, scout leaders to
      citizen militiamen, paramedics to scientists.

      Freedom, independence, means we must be responsible; it means we must
      be careful and wise. Those who are most wise are the least independent
      — and that is what makes them so free. *


      * I know that sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but it's actually true.
      Go fig.

      ====

      --
      Warren Ockrassa, Publisher/Editor, nightwares Books
      http://books.nightwares.com/
      Current work in progress "The Seven-Year Mirror"
      http://www.nightwares.com/books/ockrassa/Flat_Out.pdf

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