A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy 230th!

I was too busy enjoying the fruits of the labors of millions of our predecessors here in the U.S. to blog yesterday, so a belated Happy Birthday to America! 230 years and counting (official like-- for European settlement, we're closing in on 400 years), which is not too shabby, though somewhat pale in comparison to many of the countries in Europe.

Still, the Fourth of July is a wonderful day-- most (all?) of those older countries can't really point to a date and say, "That's when we were born. That's our country's birthday." When would England put that day? When the Romans left? When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church? When their constitutional monarchy was established? There is no definitive date.

Kinda cool, no? The Fourth, in addition to being a day off from work to grill, drink beer, and light off small packages of explosive materials (all of which I did yesterday), is a chance to celebrate our past and to remember what makes this country great. Simply put, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

We get bogged down in the trivialities and the miasma of contentious politics, and I'll admit I'm waiting for someone to sound the clarion call to get back to those basics, but despite it all, that's still what this country is all about. We need to remember that, and we need to hold our leaders to account when they lose focus-- or when they never had it to begin with.

So, I hope you all enjoyed the Fourth (even those of you hinterlanders who live in other benighted parts of the globe-- I kid, I kid), and regardless of whether you are American or not, I hope we can all remember the importance of Thomas Jefferson's words.

People are people. We are flawed, we are majestic, we are vain, we are selfless, we are stupid, we are brilliant, we are funny and we are annoying. Nobody has a headlock on the truth-- but if we remember what the important things are and avoid getting lost in the dross of life, we'll be okay. The Framers new that-- they let the little things (even the big things-- like slavery) slide so as to get the important things done. It's worked for 230 years, and I see no reason it can't work for another 230 as long as we don't lose touch with our roots. With our values.

With our history.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
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