Once upon a time, many years ago, I made a conscious decision that there were simply too many holidays, combined with an ever-increasing cost of
complying with societal holiday expectations. I chose two holidays out of the year that I wished to really honor: the first was Christmas, the
celebration of the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and thus the celebration of freedom from spiritual condemnation, and the second was the
4th of July, the day we (the USA) celebrate our freedom from physical tyranny. That is not to say I didn't observe
Memorial Day, Thanksgiving,
etc... it meant that I did not care about all the hoopla and commercialism that was growing up around them.
It was a practical decision. I was celebrating freedom, and on holidays that occurred with some regularity, July and December.
I said back then that there were only two periods during a year when I would not work: the period of Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day, and after
6:00 PM on the 4th of July. Sundays? Fine. Nights? Fine. Weekends? No problem. But those two time periods were mine, and not for sale at any price.
Today is Sunday, the 4th of July. Once I would have been busily preparing for the most massive display of fireworks in this county. I used to spend
hours upon hours timing fuses and assembling boards of commercial-grade fireworks to shoot off. I spent hundreds of dollars on them, had a few hundred
pounds of prime sirloin steak, gallons of baked beans, a few gross of deviled eggs, and at least one full untapped keg of beer.
Even making it private and invitation-only, I had more publicity than the free show put on by the surrounding cities.
Today I sit here at my workbench, typing furiously on this computer. There are no fireworks, no steak, no trimmings, and no beer.
Once I cared about a celebration of physical freedom. Today I do not. That freedom is slowly being sucked out of this country, and to make it worse,
it is happening not in a face-to-face confrontation, but in a slow insidious crawl fueled in large part by those very people who claim to adore
That is a bold statement. Allow me to explain:
At one time, the United States was a group of small states, sparsely populated, with limited means. They banded together and established a society
which they believed would work for the betterment of all. This was written down in the United States Constitution, and those principles allowed this
country to grow into the single greatest superpower the world had ever seen. I outline some of those principles here:
- That every man (person)
is created equal, and it is then up to them as to how they wish to use that equality.
- That the basic rights of mankind are not given by any government, but are inherent (i.e. "endowed by their Creator").
- That government is but a necessary evil, and as such should be kept to the minimum necessary to a functioning society.
- That the best way to keep government in check is through public knowledge of its operations and public ability to speak out against it and resist
tyranny by force where necessary.
- That people are the purpose of government, not that government is the purpose of people.
- That a society, when left alone, will find ways to provide for itself and its people; government, when allowed, will find ways to provide for
itself at the expense of the people.
- That people should be able to change their course in life, to better themselves above the class levels they found themselves born into, to
associate with those they choose to associate with, as their own talents and desires and tenacity allows.
- That ownership of property is one of those basic rights which no government can take away, as property is the fruits of the individual's
This has been called collectively "The American Dream".
This is directly responsible for the advances in technology and the high levels of comfort we enjoy today. This morning, as I awoke in a contemplative
frame of mind, I made a mental list of some of these advances we take for granted today:
- The bed I woke up in was soft.
- I had warm blankets should I get cold during the night.
- There was a nice cold Mountain Dew sitting beside me (thanks to my wonderful wife!).
- A fan was blowing air across me to keep me from getting hot.
- I had clean, well-fitting, comfortable clothes to put on.
- Those clothes were cleaned by a machine I own that made rubbing them rougnly across a washbard unecessary.
- I had a TV to turn on on a whim to watch a few minutes of entertainment.
- I could turn it on from a comfortable seat without moving more than my thumb.
- On that TV, I have satelite cable signal... meaning I have hundreds of channels to choose from to find something I want to watch at that moment.
- If I were hungry, I had a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a convection oven, an electric can opener, and several other small appliances to keep my
food safe and to prepare it faster and easier.
- Many people have a central air conditioning system to protect them from weather fluctuations.
- I have electric lights, which allow me to do things any time of day or night with the flip of a switch.
- I have electricity which powers all these things and is available whenever I want it.
- I have a telephone, from which I can call anywhere in the world. I can call anywhere in the nation for free.
- I have in my pocket a cellular phone, which gives me that same convenience anywhere I wish to go.
- I lit a cigarette using a BiC lighter... I have a ready source of fire available at the flick of a thumb.
- I have a pocketknife that gives me the ability to cut anything that needs to be cut at a moment's notice. The blade is high-tempered surgical
steel, which means it rarely needs sharpening.
- Outside there sits a car... instant personal transportation anywhere I wish to go, in air-conditioned comfort.
- In that car, as well as in my home and shop, I can listen to music any time I wish, whatever genre I wish, and if I have the CDs, whatever
song I wish.
- I have computers with Internet access. I can type papers, calculate equations, create drawings, paint artwork, or simply send messages back and
forth across the globe in real time.
I can share my thoughts with millions of people simply by clicking a button.
- As I walked through the yard, I realized that I have machinery that makes it much easier to keep high grass and those weeds from blocking my
- I have a chainsaw should I need to remove trees, clear heavy brush, cut firewood, or cut fence posts.
- Sitting unused in my yard is an old basketball goal and a swingset... in their youth, my children could enjoy themselves playing basketball or
- There is plenty of food in my house.
- Out here in my shop I have power tools, to make any work I do easier, faster, and more accurate.
- The shop itself was built using dimensional lumber. I didn't have to run logs through a sawmill blade, then plane them down and cut to length. I
simply bought studs.
- The windows here and in my house are designed to keep out rain, filter UV light rays, and hold in heat or cold. And to beat that, they slide to
allow for fresh air to come in.
- My home and shop are insulated, making it easier and more efficient to heat or cool them.
I have all of these things and advantages, and many more I have probably overlooked, because I live in the United States. I have had the ability to
learn skills and to gain knowledge, and I have had the ability to choose what I wished to do with my life. As a consequence of that, and as a
consequence of my own actions and decisions, I have the life I both desired and deserved. I have no one to blame for my shortcomings but myself, but
also I have no one to credit for my successes but myself.
And as I sit here, I am unemployed. I have been either un-employed or under-employed for the last year and a half. I am the poor at this time in my
life, and yet, compared to other places, I am wealthy beyond imagination. Because I was born under in capitalistic United States of America.
Today, this system is under attack. Today, one's basic needs, and even one's desires, are considered to be 'rights', to be supplied on a silver
platter by others. The system which allowed the construction of huge factories, plentiful food and goods, and plentiful jobs, is being choked by
regulation, taxation, and public opinion. Companies which give jobs are inherently 'evil', and governments which slow or stop progress are
considered the best solutions to this 'evil'. Hard work is considered cruel and unusual punishment, and the ability or desire to succeed is a
violation of some never before considered societal justice. Success is met with suspicion and scorn, while failure merits reward.
Capitalism is skewed. Those who have succeeded are punished. Those who provide for others are derided. A cup of hot coffee spilled in one's lap by
oneself brings settlements in court that dwarf the average person's lifetime earnings, all in some misguided attempt to 'rectify' the 'evils'
that this Capitalism has heaped upon us. I hear more and more how 'Capitalism has failed!', yet those who cry such quickly explain these failures as
how social programs
have failed to provide as promised.
Our education system is in the throes of despair... children are being taught more and more about the social mores of those in authority over them,
and less and less about math, science, history, reading, or comprehension. Those who wish to perform 'hands-on' work, such as the tradesmen who
built the country we live in and enjoy today, are scorned while those who provide nothing of value to society, the lifelong students, the
'professional' demonstrators, the politicians, are exalted as shining examples of achievement. Correct answers take a back seat to building
self-esteem. Achievement toward a productive future is secondary to achievement toward indoctrination into socialistic ideals.
Soldiers fighting the wars they are asked to fight are held to peacetime laws while embroiled in wartime combat. Their service, their sacrifice, their
pain is scorned as criminal. Those they fight against, those who would harm us, are held to no standards whatsoever. Those who fought in wars long
past, who helped to secure the rights and way of life we enjoy today, are regularly dismissed as 'savage brutes' whose tenacity and determination
are no longer needed nor revered.
Freedom of speech has been perverted into freedom to be heard. Cries of censorship abound over inabilities to adequately present a message, while true
expressions, incuding certain words themselves irregardless of the meaning behind them are turned into a societal taboo.
Freedom of religion has been perverted and twisted into freedom from religion, violating the very tenet that it set. Those who disagree with the
majority of society are ridiculed, while ridicule of the actually ridiculous misunderstandings of a sub-culture is unthinkable. Talking to someone is
considered a heinous crime if the talk is religious, and a protected right if not.
"Innocent until proven guilty" has become "Innocent unless thought to be guilty". And it is now supported by law, as property is regularly seized
without any conviction, sometimes without even an indictment.
Illegal acts are accepted with open arms, and those who cry against such are held to be criminals instead.
Amidst all this destruction of our way of life, the same way of life that supported generations of people in a standard of living never before seen on
the planet, we have companies running amok, taking from the people what they will in order to further their own desires, using the same government
that was instituted as a protector of the ideals our Founding Fathers held as abettors in their crimes against the people.
And the cry of the people? More, more
No. Today I will shoot no fireworks. I will grill no steaks. There is little left to celebrate.
But there is hope. There is hope that the people will one day realize what they have lost, and why they have lost it. There is hope that the ills of
this once-great country can be overcome. There is hope that the next generation can realize, before it's too late, that our future is indeed in their
hands, and the answers they seek are clear to see if one looks at history.
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
May that quote never be proven wrong.
Happy Independence Day.
[edit on 7/4/2010 by TheRedneck]