Azeta at Large:
Musings on the Fourth of July
America’s national holiday brings to mind not only spectacular displays of dazzling fireworks but colorful patriotic parades, savory backyard barbecues, community concerts in the park, a memorable day at the beach, traditional family picnics with friends and relatives, classic games of baseball and, of course, political speeches praising the nation’s heritage in all manner of public ceremonies. National days in every country are grand events which everyone loves to celebrate.
But what is it, exacty, that the citizens are celebrating? The straightforward answer is seemingly obvious: independence from Britain, the colonial master. But was the point of contention Britain itself, or was it what British power represented? The Declaration of Independence, in its famous preamble, proclaims a more profound matter: a defense of the unalienable rights of man, rights which no governement has the legal or moral standing to abolish, usurp or curtail. That is what makes the Fourth of July a world-class event: it speaks for all of humanity throughout the ages, not just this or that nation at such-and-such a time facing these or those circumstances. The Fourth of July roundly proclaims universal personal freedom.
So how has humanity fared after more than two centuries of Independence Day celebrations? Are men and women truly free to enjoy life and act with liberty and pursue their happiness as they see fit, or are governments still infringing on their inalienable rights by recourse to legalistic subterfuge? Does it matter if the infringers are Brits or Yanks? Independence means sovereignty. But for whom, one must ask: the individual or the state? Is statism the current incarnation of King George? Is emancipation still a mere abstraction, an ideal deserving admiration but not to be literally enjoyed?
These are important questions that arise from the legacy of the Fourth of July, questions to be addressed and discussed in this blog.
Pop quiz: When did Congress declare independence?
Answer: On the second day of July.