A V-formation flock of geese seems to have one member of the group as the leader, but each member takes its turn at the point of the V, leading the way as the others in the formation honk in encouragement. The geese stay together, even when one becomes sick or injured; the group stays with it until it is well enough to continue the journey at its regular pace.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
OUR NATION'S BIRTHDAY
As a teenager, the Fourth of July included parades since I
played in the marching band. Later as a mother it still included parades where
my daughters played and marched or carried flags. And what would the Fourth be
without a picnic and fireworks? Many of my Fourths also included fishing and
stories about family members who served in various branches of the military.
Above all it was a family day, in essence a small piece of what the historic
events of 1776 were all about, a time when father, mother, and their offspring
could enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made for them so long ago.
It was a novel concept back then that people might govern
themselves; that matters of religion, education, employment, and self defense
rightly belong to the individual. In order to prevent the kind of tyranny they
had so narrowly escaped, those founding fathers drew up a constitution that
called for an overall government limited to certain responsibilities. The
remaining rights were to be restricted to the states in order to keep
government as close to the people as possible. Such long time emblems of tyranny
as a monarchy, state religion, and the education of only the wealthy were
rejected. Opportunity, equality, and freedom became the new mantra of our
ancestors who offered their lives in exchange for a new way of doing things. Farmers
and shopkeepers became soldiers who suffered and many died for this dream. In
the intervening years many other good men and women have died on battlefields
around the world where they fought to preserve freedom and the simple red,
white, and blue flag under which the revolutionaries fought has grown to
include fifty stars.
With the passage of time, freedom grew to include those who
came here against their will and those fleeing poverty and a lack of
opportunity elsewhere. On the way there
have been injustices; the Mormons were ordered exterminated by a narrow-minded
governor, some areas denied black people the right to vote, Western states were
ordered to stop allowing women to vote, some Hispanic transient workers have
been denied payment for their hard manual labor and deported instead, Chinese
railroad workers were often treated badly, Japanese families were incarcerated.
There are, and likely always will be, some low-minded people who will continue
to persecute those they consider beneath them, but real Americans revel in the
success of anyone who works for it.
The past week has been troubling for many Americans whether
they support non-traditional marriage or not. There is great concern over the usurpation
of state rights by the Supreme Court and serious, justifiable concerns about
freedom of religion, parental rights, children's rights, divorce laws, and the
legality of other potential matrimonial combinations. Most of these concerns
could and should have been worked out without the drastic interference of a few
unelected individuals. This is what legislatures are for. The hateful,
insulting rhetoric being flung about by both sides of the controversy certainly
isn't helpful either. Social changes brought about by majority consensus have
proved to work better than those forced on people by edict. It will be a
challenge and likely involve many contentious years to work out this issue.
It's easy to say this doesn't concern me, but in fact it concerns all of us,
and we all need to be involved in working out solutions that are fair to all
Americans. Let's not let this issue be the one that destroys "justice for
all" or the "freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own consciences."
I'll be cheering at a parade, eat yummy food, and fly the
stars and stripes this Fourth. I hope you will too. America is still worth
celebrating. And just one more thing, a slogan I learned as a teenager,
"Don't go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, or you might not be around to
go forth on the fifth."