Tag Archives: Independence Day

Freedom of Thought #CelebrateDiversity

When you look back far enough, every person in this country is an immigrant. The Native American tribes and First Nations peoples came first, across the waters and across the land bridges. This was their land for thousands of years.

But we who claim European, African, and Asian ancestry are all recent immigrants. We are only here because our parents and grandparents found a place where they could raise their family in relative safety, and forced their way in. Some were brought here against their will, but stayed, hoping to find a better life. It wasn’t easy, and those times were difficult.

In some ways, Independence Day celebrates the possibilities, the promise that lives in every human being, and which our founders also saw and hoped to preserve. Yes, these men were flawed, as are all human beings, but they were freethinkers.

When you read historical accounts written at the time by the men and women who lived the American Revolution, you discover it was about so much more than simply breaking away from England. It was a time of revolution all over the western world, also happening in Great Britain, and in France, and across Europe. It was a tidal wave of freedom of thought.

These freethinkers discussed their ideas. They wrote books on philosophy and natural history and writing some of the greatest works of fiction, works that still figure largely in our literary canon.

History shows us that when dictators come to power, they begin cleansing society of the unwanted, usually starting with the immigrants. Then they move on to those whose faith is the “wrong” religion, and then to the freethinkers, burning books that espouse ideas contrary to the new regime. Clergy, artists, writers, entertainers, and philosophers become enemies of the state and risk imprisonment for “perilous thinking.”

We live in a time where narrow minds are poised to snatch freedoms we take for granted from us.

We run the risk of losing 242 years of the right to bear thoughts, dangerous, incendiary things if left lying around where just anyone can find them.

Today we are still allowed to argue politics and discuss religion freely. We still have access to the internet and can discuss books and the impact they make on us as readers. Those of us fortunate enough to be protected by proof of citizenship will celebrate the 4th of July with our children, in the safety of our home. We will celebrate in our small ways, protected by the freedoms firmly espoused in 1776 document that begins with the words “We the People,” and signed by the founding fathers.

We are decent people, trying to live good lives. Individually, we don’t see ourselves as exclusionary or cruel. We believe in the greater good, and because we do, change will come. The face of America will evolve.

Immigrants have always come to America and always will, and they will be a part of what makes this nation a good place to live. We will find common ground because this is a small planet in a large universe, and right now, we have nowhere else to go. Change and growth are never easy.


Credits and Attributions

US Flag, Backlit By Jnn13 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons (accessed 04 July 2018)

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#independenceday: celebrating diversity

800px-John_C._Dollman_-_The_immigrants'_ship_-_Google_Art_ProjectToday, July 4, 2016, is celebrated as Independence Day, here in the US. Yet, though my family left their homes in dear old Mother England, we still feel that bond, that familial connection.

My father’s side of the family came to America from Herne Hill, Canterbury, England in 1630, sailing on the Winthrop Fleet, and ended up in Massachusetts.

My mother’s side came from Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales right around the same time, and ended up in Virginia. Somehow, fortunes were made and lost, generations passed, and my grandparents ended up in Olympia, Washington.

Hó-ra-tó-a,_a_BraveWhen you look back far enough, every person in this country is an immigrant. The Native American tribes and First Nations peoples came first, across the waters and across the land bridges. This was their land for thousands of years. But we who claim European, African, and Asian ancestry are all recent immigrants. We are only here because our parents and grandparents found a place where they could raise their family in relative safety, and forced their way in. Some were brought here against their will, but stayed, hoping to find a better life. It wasn’t easy, and those times were difficult.

We are decent people, trying to live good lives. Individually, we don’t see ourselves as exclusionary or cruel. We believe in the greater good, and because we do, change will come. The face of America will evolve.

800px-4th_of_July_(2008)_fireworks_over_Seattle_(3)Immigrants have always come to America and always will, and they will be a part of what makes this nation a good place to live. We will find common ground because this is a small planet in a large universe, and right now, we have nowhere else to go. Change and growth are never easy, and there are always some who would hold back, fearing the unknown.

Today America celebrates its independence from Great Britain. Today we celebrate our diversity.

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To England and Wales, the mother country(s), on the 4th of July

First of all, my beloved sister nation, Great Britain, I want you to know that I love you like the siblings we are.

We here on the west side of the Atlantic just needed our own space, and having separate rooms really did improve how we interacted with each other.

We have so much in common, and by golly no one had better pick on you, because you are family!

My Father’s side of the family came to America from Herne Hill, Canterbury, England in 1630, sailing on the Winthrop Fleet, and ended up in Massachusetts.

My mother’s side came from  Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales right around the same time, and ended up in Virginia.

So, today as we celebrate Independence Day here in jolly old America, I will raise my gin(less) tonic/w a twist of lime to the mother country(s)–and listen to the Beatles, in honor of my roots and my dear friends in both England and in Wales.

fireworks via wikipeda

Fireworks, via Wikipedia

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Independence Day

I am not one to wax poetic or fall into a patriotic froth as some folks are wont to do, but I celebrate my intellectual freedom, and defy anyone who would deny me the privilege of free-thinking.  For me the 4th of July, or as it is known here in the US, Independence Day is more than an excuse to wave the flag and mouth hokey clichés to the effect of ‘my country is better than your country’ or ‘my flag right or wrong’.  In my mind, true patriotism goes far beyond the obvious, beyond the visible demonstrations of ‘See? I wave the flag – I am a patriot!’

Independence Day celebrates the possibilities which live in the soul of every human being, and which our forefathers also saw and which they too celebrated. When you read their diaries and the historical accounts written at the time by the men and women who lived the American Revolution, you discover it was about so much more than simply breaking away from England.  It was a time of revolution all over the western world.

This revolution not only happened in America, it happened in Great Britain and in France, and all across Europe.  It was a tidal wave of freedom of thought.

They not only thought freely, they discussed their thoughts; writing great books on philosophy and natural history and writing some of the greatest works of fiction; works which still figure largely in the public consciousness.

The first American novel was William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy, published in 1791. It depicts a tragic love story between siblings who fell in love without knowing they were related. It was considered risqué and pressed the boundaries of polite conversation.

In the next decade important women writers also published novels. Susanna Rowson is best known for her novel, Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, published in London in 1791. Yes, an independent American woman had to go to England to get published! In 1794 the novel was reissued in Philadelphia under the title, Charlotte Temple. Although Rowson was extremely popular in her time and is often acknowledged as a trailblazer in the early development of the American novel, Charlotte Temple is often criticized as a sentimental novel of seduction.

Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette: Or, the History of Eliza Wharton was published in 1797 and was also extremely popular. Both The Coquette and Charlotte Temple are novels that treat the right of women to live as equals as the new democratic experiment. While many of these novels were popular, the economic infrastructure of the time did not allow these writers to make a living through their writing alone.

That sounds familiar!

The first author to be able to support himself through the income generated by his publications alone was Washington Irving. He completed his first major book in 1809 entitled A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, but I am more familiar with his short stories, ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. As America’s first genuine internationally best-selling author, Irving advocated for writing as a legitimate profession, and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.

Books are unsafe things, and when a dictator comes to power, one of the first things they frequently do is burn the books which espouse ideas contrary to the new regime.  Writers and philosophers become enemies of the state and risk imprisonment for perilous thinking.  All over the world today, dangerous thinkers are incarcerated for having dared to speak their minds.

Independence Day is the day on which I celebrate the freedom to think freely about the possibilities, and to discuss and explore those possibilities in the written word.  We live in a time where narrow minds are poised to snatch those freedoms from us, a time when the public mind is polarized into ‘us’ and ‘them’.

We run the risk of losing 236 years of  the right to bear ‘thoughts’, dangerous, incendiary things if left lying around where children can find them.  This is why I wave the flag and proudly barbeque hot-dogs and eat apple pie with my family every 4th of July. We will argue politics, and discuss religion freely. We will discuss the books we are reading and the impact they made on us as readers, and we will do it in the safety of my sister’s yard; protected by the freedoms firmly espoused in 1776 document which begins with the words “We the People…” and signed by the founding fathers.

That is a reason to celebrate!

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