Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Some Premature Congratulations

While I could get organized enough to buy a birthday card for two people from every state of the Union, I’m not sure I could afford the postage and with the holiday falling this year on a Friday, making a ‘natural’ three day weekend instead of those artificial celebrate-on-Monday ones, I’m not sure the cards would get there. So this space will have to do, even if I’m premature-Happy 238th Birthday, America.

Before it gets really crazy busy between now and Friday, perhaps each of us could look in the mirror and then look around at the country we received from our parents and which we are giving to our children. There’s been as much gained as there has been lost through the tears and years of sacrifices and some of what has changed has been better and some of it has only been different. The dilemma has always been in deciding which.

History tells us the heat was unbearable and tempers were hot in Philadelphia all those years ago as malcontents and troublemakers (in the eyes of His Majesty, George III, King of England) gathered to refine, define and catalog their grievances and complaints with the most powerful empire the world had known.

Listing what it called our 
‘unalienable rights’ to include ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ the founders of our republic, who didn’t agree on very much except that the present state of affairs could not continue, concluded the only way forward on a largely unexplored, new continent whose size and wealth was not yet known, was to break with the past and declare independence from England.
Out of all of that has come all of this.

Along the way, the original magic and meaning gets lost sometimes in the noise of backyard pool parties, and barbecued anything. Our politics is spirited even if our interest isn't. It’s not even that we all agree with who we are and what we are doing, because we don’t. It’s been suggested as a nation we haven’t been this divided morally, philosophically, politically and socially since the Civil War. And that should sound ominous to those of us who still care.

Some say never have so many had so much of life’s material rewards but, others offer never have so many struggled to hold on to what they have. On the outcome of this fall’s Congressional elections, we hear, hinges the future of our nation-just as it seemingly always has. It was true then and remains true now.

I fear what’s missing is a national sense of self and our confidence and belief in our own abilities to forever adapt and triumph. We had those traits at the Founding and I would hope, this 4th of July, each in our own way, we might again find them, for those whose inheritance we are and for those whose promise is yet to be. Happy July 4th. 
May July 5th and all the days that remain be even more so.
-bill kenny

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