Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Make it a point, preferably before you celebrate Independence Day, to stop by Capitalism Magazine to read this classic editorial on the meaning of this holiday by Michael Berliner, "Put the 'Independence' Back in Independence Day".
Why? For one thing, since the fight for freedom never ends, it is important to step back for a moment to understand more deeply or remember the full importance and glory of what it is our forefathers fought for. For another, doing so enhances one's ability to fully enjoy this celebration. In addition, two points in particular sorely need to be known and understood (for both reasons) far more widely than they currently are, and I think this editorial explains both quite well.
First is the fact that our Founding Fathers put their lives on the line to free themselves from a tyranny that is mild by today's standards:
"Independence Day" is a critically important title. It signifies the fundamental meaning of this nation, not just of the holiday. The American Revolution remains unique in human history: a revolution--and a nation--founded on a moral principle, the principle of individual rights. Jefferson at Philadelphia, and Washington at Valley Forge, pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." For what? Not for mere separation from England, not--like most rebels--for the "freedom" to set up their own tyranny. In fact, Britain's tyranny over the colonists was mild compared to what most current governments do to their citizens. [bold added]The second is why they did so:
Political independence is not a primary. It rests on a more fundamental type of independence: the independence of the human mind. It is the ability of a human being to think for himself and guide his own life that makes political independence possible and necessary. The government as envisaged by the Founding Fathers existed to protect the freedom to think and to act on one's thinking. If human beings were unable to reason, to think for themselves, there would be no autonomy or independence for a government to protect. It is this independence that defines the American Revolution and the American spirit. [bold added]You'll hear no belittling of fireworks or barbecues coming from here, but trust me, both are far more meaningful and enjoyable when one fully appreciates what it is that they celebrate.
One need not be an American citizen or even to have ever stepped foot in America to have something to celebrate today: America's Founding Fathers showed the world once and for all that it is possible to win the fight for freedom.
If you recognize the importance of the moral virtue of independence and fight for the freedom that makes it possible, you are an American in spirit, and I wish you a happy Independence Day!
Today: Rewrote second paragraph.