Yesterday was celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. We usually just call it the Fourth of July, which it is, of course, everywhere in the world.
Celebrations this year were muted by the ongoing COVID catastrophe. While we still have the virus pretty well controlled where I live in the Northeast US, much of the rest of the country is experiencing a rapid spread which is threatening to overwhelm the health care system. Many states in the South and West are breaking their records for new cases daily and some are belatedly issuing mandatory use of masks in public and closing bars, indoor restaurants, and beaches, in hopes of reducing their infection rates.
It breaks my heart to see the level of suffering, knowing that much of it could have been avoided if leaders and the public understood and respected what the public health experts have been telling us. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay six feet away from people who don’t live in your household. Avoid gatherings. Stay at home except for essential work and errands.
The advice works! We proved it in New York State and other states in the Northeast. This is also how most of the other countries that have gotten their transmission rate to low levels did it.
On Independence Day, the United States commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which declares that all are equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some of the people who won’t wear masks say doing so is an affront to their liberty, but liberty is not a license to abandon responsibility. I recently saw a political cartoon by Dave Whamond where a man was declaring his right to drive his car in the opposite direction on the highway. (It didn’t end well.) No person’s “liberty” should be allowed to interfere with someone else’s rights.
The Declaration of Independence ends, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” It was clear that the document was not about something so small as personal desire or preference or grievance.
We each bear a responsibility to others.
Don’t drive the wrong way down the highway.
Wear a mask.
In the United States, July fourth is celebrated as Independence Day, in recognition of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 by the Continental Congress.
This document, written for the most part by Thomas Jefferson, is still considered one of the pillars of our government. It famously declares “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is heartbreaking that, at this time, our government is ignoring the existence of those universal human rights, most noticeably among immigrants and asylum seekers. In society, we see this same problem expressed through discrimination or hatred against those of a different religion, race, ethnicity, or gender expression. We see it with employers who don’t pay living wages to their workers.
It’s discouraging to see my country, which I love, not living up to its highest ideals.
I don’t feel like fireworks or parades or speeches.
We are celebrating quietly at home with chicken spiedies, baked beans, corn on the cob, and fresh-baked strawberry rhubarb pie. Paco is joining us for dinner, so we will have our four generations together, from my World War II veteran father to my dual-citizen of the US and UK granddaughter.
Daughter E is wearing a shirt which says “EQUALLITY” with the ALL in sparkly colors.
That’s what I want my country to concentrate on today.
PS: I really appreciated this short reflection on civil rights and and obligations by Sister Simone Campbell.
Although I am not really a football fan, our family watched the Super Bowl last night. As a native of New England, I was hoping for a Patriots win.
It didn’t look good for a long while, as the Falcons took a commanding lead, larger than any that had ever been overcome in Super Bowl history.
But the Patriots fought back to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation play and scored a touchdown in the first drive of overtime to win their fifth Super Bowl under current ownership, coach, and quarterback.
I woke up this morning thinking that patriots always fight back.
They do not quit.
And, eventually, despite the odds against them, they prevail.
It gives me hope that, despite the attempts of DT’s administration to dismantle or side-step our Constitutional rights, the balance of power among the three branches of government, and checks and balance, we patriots of 2017 will prevail, as have patriots since 1776.
And the reigning Super Bowl champions.