I’m going to warn you in advance…today’s Musing will contain above average levels of both patriotism and sap.
“Hm. How much sap?”
Think Hallmark card written in cursive.
That’s why I thought it was only fair to warn you. I’ll take no offense if you would prefer not to read about how great the United States of America is.
But, I think now more than ever is the time to really reflect on the fateful decision a bunch of fed up, over worked, over taxed farmers made to band together to kick the Redcoats the hell outta here and take control of what was then- and still is today- our responsibility.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Ours. No one else’s.
Have you read the Declaration of Independence? I think everyone is fairly familiar with the first paragraph and first sentence of the second. They’re pretty powerful.
WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.–
Even if you didn’t know the full bit, you’ve seen most of the preamble and start of the second paragraph on various Facebook memes. And why not? That’s some good and powerful writing, and boy did they know how to work up a crowd, eh?
But, do you really know what comes next? Because in all honesty, what comes next is SO much better. It’s a bit frilly, though, and muddled in old timey-ness. Maybe that’s why people overlook it.
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
I’d like to think they sent good king George a pot of aloe to ease those sick burns.
My favorite segment, pared down a bit to cut out the somewhat unnecessary frippery, is the line, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism…”
They just called their king an absolute despot. Consider the era. No one- NO ONE- called the king of Great Britain names in a public forum. It just didn’t happen. It wasn’t done. Not without the serious risk of head loss.
“…it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government…”
Coups happen. They’ve been done throughout human history. When Ugh got too big for his loin cloth, Egh rounded up the other cavemen and kicked his ass outta the top spot. So a rebellion was nothing new. But goddamn did they do it with flair.
And you also have to remember that at this point in time, we relied on Great Britain for a whole lot. They were our economy. Our military. Our lawmakers. Our back up plan in case the still largely untested New World didn’t pan out in the long run.
“Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies… To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”
The main goal of the Declaration of Independence was to establish the United States of America as its own nation in every respect, especially in terms of global trade. We would need to be able to make our own deals, and until we were firmly established as our own nation, that wouldn’t happen.
Congress was smart enough to realize that if they only sent a copy of the Declaration to the king, nothing would change. The king would laugh, raise the stamp tax to teach the plebs a lesson, and continue to wallow in excess on the backs of his subjects. The demands would basically be swept under the rug.
To solidify resolve and prove just how serious we were, our congress sent copies of this document EVERYWHERE. Which makes this next part so damn good when you think about it. They proceeded to air the king’s dirty laundry. And they didn’t hold back.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
No, really. That’s what it was. An open tattling to all the other countries. Blowing the whistle. Revealing the wolf under the sheep’s clothing.
And it worked, but not really because of the “injustices” on the list. It wasn’t as if the leaders of other nations would look at the perceived offenses and find them all that unreasonable. The rulers would have looked at the list and said, “Yeah, seems about right. He’s a king and you are peasants. Duh.”
It wasn’t the king’s offenses that got other nations excited. It was simply the fact that peasants would dare publicly rebuke their king in such a bold and uninhibited manner. It said we were serious. There was no going back. Our congress chose this path and we were fully committed. That idea was what got other nations so excited.
The idea of a new trade partner that wasn’t England was appealing to them. Most of the world didn’t like Great Britain at that point. GB had spent the better part of a few hundred years plundering and conquering and warring. Most trade deals with Great Britain were the equivalent of a kid giving his lunch money every week to the class bully so the dude wouldn’t beat the snot out of them. Other nations wanted the things Great Britain could get, and they grudgingly got in bed with the enemy to make it happen.
Then along came the colonies.
Imagine being a foreign leader at the time who heard about a document just absolutely shredding the asshole you have to work with but totally hate. Nothing could have rallied the other nations of the world against Great Britain like the Declaration of Independence. Talk about a smear campaign!
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
Here’s a clever bit. Congress laid out the king’s offenses, then turned it around and said, “Hey, we tried to work with you, fam, but you just have zero chill.”
“A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
I’m guessing that when the rulers of other nations read the document to their rapt courts, this is the point where people put their fists to their mouths and said, “Oooohhhh I do believe the king hath been served.”
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Is it a perfect document? No. I don’t think such a thing exists. Times change. Attitudes become refined. Knowledge gives humanity a different outlook and the ethos of a society morphs with that new information. All you have to do is look at the last item on the list of grievances to understand this. “Indian Savages?” *cringe*
But you know what? It’s a pretty damn good way to start a nation.
And now, more than ever, I think we ALL need to read it. Understand it. Reflect on the meaning. I’m not calling for war. I don’t think we’ll get anywhere if we grab our pitchforks and storm the White House. Or Senate. Or the House of Representatives. Or whoever it is that you particularly hate or blame for the current state of our nation. I don’t think we need muskets to fix our problems.
I think we need to remember where we came from, though. I think we need to spend a bit of today not ignoring the problems, but embracing the idea that WE CAN FIX THIS.
We’ve done it before. We can certainly do it again.
And it’s worth doing! It’s worth the work. I’m sitting here telling you that I’m all for a political coup…
*I can’t stress this enough, I’m for a POLITICAL coup, not physical. I’m not advocating militias. I don’t think we need them, at least not yet.*
…and nothing bad is going to happen to me. I’ll say it right here. I don’t like the dude in the White House. I don’t like looking at his orange face. I don’t like watching his flap of hair waft in the breeze. I cringe at the words that tumble from his drooling maw.
And there’s nothing he can do to me for saying that.
I’m not going to be decapitated. I won’t be incarcerated until I release a statement saying good things about Honorable Leader. My family won’t be evicted from our home. I won’t be fired.
I don’t like him. And you know what? I’ve got a looooong list of “do not likes” from BOTH political parties. I’m overall pretty moderate, which means right now, I’m an equal opportunity shunner. I am disappointed in everyone in charge.
And, I’m very disappointed in us for putting them there. And keeping them there. And paying the fees to make sure they don’t beat the snot out of us instead of putting them in their place.
I love this country. I honestly would not live anywhere else. I just want us to think about what the Founding Fathers did, and maybe embrace our roots going forward. They weren’t perfect. I’m not even trying to claim they were. Hell, on a personal level, I probably wouldn’t have liked a single one of them. They certainly wouldn’t have liked ME!
But you don’t need to be perfect to have a good idea. You don’t need to be perfect to fight for something larger than yourself. You don’t need to be perfect to put yourself on the line to change things for the better.
And you don’t need to live in a perfect nation to love it.
Thus concludes my Patriotic Musing for Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Everyone have a SAFE and happy holiday. The Founding Fathers would be very disappointed in you if you drink and drive. Don’t make Ben Franklin sad.