Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day 2020: A Celebration of Possibilities

For those readers with me in the United States, Happy 4th of July. With so much inequity, trouble, strife, killing, Fascism, and death happening in our country right now, I debated whether or not to post anything to celebrate this's a dark night for us. But then I got my weekly e-newsletter sent to me by my superb Congresswoman, the esteemed Anna Eshoo of the 18th District here in Northern California. She beautifully reminded me--and all of us--that this holiday is not really about fireworks or cartoon images of "Uncle Sam" or even the United States is about the concept of Democracy itself.

In Congresswoman Eshoo's words, "The preamble to our Constitution includes the words 'in order to form a more perfect union.' This phrase has become our national North Star, always drawing us toward those ideals. For me, the phrase declares a national purpose. With all our flaws, we’ve made progress toward those ideals, yet we have far to go to be what America should be. To do this, we were given the extraordinary tool of democracy to repair and reshape our country."

This reminded me that, when nearly two and a half centuries ago, a band of patriots gathered in Philadelphia to declare that 'all men are created equal,' they intended for this country to be different form the others, to be better, to be always striving toward a more perfect union. It is why they made the Constitution a living document, able to be revised, changed, improved upon, thus improving the lives of everyone living in these United States. It is our true purpose, our original ideal to continually improve the quality of life for Americans, ALL Americans, no matter their race, sex, age, physical ability, religion, and sexual or gender identity. And July 4th is a celebration of that, a Celebration of Possibility, a celebration of the idea that we can continually improve upon our morals, our laws, our procedures, our attitudes. We continually strive toward those possibilities which include instead of exclude, which right what has been wrong, which bring more people into our national fabric, elevating and enriching life in this country. That is why it is particularly distressing and brings a very specific anguish to see these ideals, this leap toward possibilities of greatness that is part of our Constitution and of Democracy itself eroded, attacked, and mocked by the current administration and more shockingly, by a large section of our own fellow citizens who support the viciousness and hatred of this administration.

But today, let's choose to celebrate the possibilities of change, of improvement, of an ever-strengthening yearning toward a more perfect union. Please vote to honor these ideals and to ensure that we live up to the promise of making life for all citizens--ALL citizens--better. We haven't yet and we need to, finally, fulfill that promise.

In closing, here is the sonnet "The New Colossus" by poet Emma Lazarus. It serves as the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, our valuable ally. The inscription affirms the ideal of inclusiveness and the United States as a beacon of hope, comfort, and stability for anyone who seeks it.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


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