Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave O’er The Land of the Free? Or the Home of the Brave?

Fourth of July has always been strange, but good. Unlike Memorial Day or Veterans Day, which celebrate war and the need to make veterans, the Fourth celebrates an idea. It represents freedom or the attempt at freedom, and a new outlook on the way things should be.

No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a first try at overthrowing Empire. No slaves weren’t freed, but a few people thought suddenly that they should be, and ultimately they would be. Yes, all men were considered equal. But the idea of freedom, once seen and experienced, cannot be undone. The idea lays dormant until there’s a chance for it — and us — to sprout again.

As surely as Princess Leia had an “only hope”, people who have experienced freedom and independence will continue to survive with only that much, and yearn for the time when it comes.

We’re there again. We hope Robert Mueller will save us. We hope Susan Collins will save us. Time and time again, in the past 18 months, we have hoped that someone sane or decent would save us from the inhumanity of Trump’s crew of fearful loyalists. As the Roberts court ends, I am not so sure that we will be saved by anyone. I’m not convinced some part of our country doesn’t want Freedom to die… except for their freedom, their right to make money, and their right to own guns.

Independence must be matched with caring for others or it becomes self-indulgence. We, as a nation, have become better and more complex when caring for others is a rule. We become worse and simpler when we stop doing so. “Purity” calls for inbreeding — genetically and regarding ideas. It yields a drop in overall intelligence, and a decreasing of coping mechanisms which require creativity. Authoritarianism yields, then, more anger and less ability to cope with it. It makes us dumb, but we’re comfortable with a world that looks and thinks just like we do.

Independence, then, is uncomfortable. When Anglo men, and only Anglo men, are the only people that matter, we move backwards in history. I don’t agree with those who that they were only oppressors, but we were not at our best ever in 1776. I think that we were on top of the world under the Marshall Plan, got better when we listened to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and on the edge of open frontier in the days of the women’s movement. At that point, people who refuse to accept that they lost the Civil War want to bring us back to the last time they were comfortable: with pre-Civil War slavery.

They want things to be simple and ‘pure”. Simple is fine, except when it’s not. Thoreau chose to live simply. We are not all Thoreau.Solar panels are a form of living simply — but they required an Einstein to see that they were possible. Complexity is fine, except when it’s not. Eating food grown without preservatives is a form of living simply that ultimately makes more sense, I think. There is a time and a place for simple and a time and a place for complicated things. Having the option to figure out which is which is a part of American freedom, or it has been, in the past. In short, when people have choices, they are free — free to make mistakes, and free to be years ahead of anyone else. Freedom and choices, require diversity — a diversity of thoughts from a diversity of people with a variety of experiences. That is not the goal of this Congress, and it certainly not the goal of a President who demands loyalty above all else, and is willing to fire people who have a different opinion.

Purity, on the other hand, will never work. All the blonde-haired, blue-eyed people in the world can’t understand the problems facing people who aren’t them. That’s most of the world. In addition to that, most of the people wanting White People to rule, don’t want women ruling. Those guys can understand and fix even less. The more a system strives for purity, the less it can function. Mr. Trump’s statements like, “I alone can fix it” will only lead to more chaos. Other countries who give absolute power to one person’s ideas will ultimately fail as well, simply out of necessity. In fact, any group of two which gives absolute power to one will yield misery. It’s just bigger on the nationwide scale.

So, as we face Independence Day in 2018, we need to ask if we are more free than we have been in the past. Children in cages is pretty much the definition of not free. A majority of any one group in prison, or in power is not free. People who support these things do not encourage freedom. America will be free in an ultimate sense when those people are free to be themselves.

All of this brings us to the issue of “bravery”. Bravery is necessary when freedom is undermined or lost. Bravery is required any time we need to stand up to bullies. By bravery, I don’t mean bombs, bullets, or bayonets. Bravery is the ability to say “no” when people want us to be less diverse. Bravery is the ability to tolerate a diversity of opinions and hear them out. Bravery is not the ability to let people hurt others or yourself.

So, here’s the deal: people in power right now either want to make this country function well, or they want to own it. Each and every time they attempt to own it, we must be brave enough to say “no”. If those in power want America to function again, they must be brave enough to say “no” to those who want one man or one party rule. Right now, that’s the Republicans. Brave Republicans need to step up and say no to the hatred of others, no to single party rule, no to letting people die, no to putting people in cages for no reason.

Is that happening? In the Senate, perhaps. In the House, no. When all it takes is one Republican to block a judicial appointment — and we have no guarantees from any of them, we’re hoping for bravery from people who aren’t inclined to give it. That’s not going to work. If we want America to be the home of the brave, we must be brave. We must say no to those people who won’t be brave and stand up for the functioning and free America. We cannot give an inch.

And if we make it through this, those in power — whichever party they are from — must make us the land of the free and encourage us to be brave.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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