I will probably have second thoughts for posting this not-quite-an-essay, rapidly conceived and written (in the heated midst of my little article on Tarzan the Rebellious, which will conclude tomorrow). But here it is, keeping me regular and consistent on positing, at least.
Itʼs the Fourth of July, a holiday in the United States of America, generally celebrated (being a summer holiday) sociably with excessive drink, sitting in lawn chairs outdoors, ballpark foods (like hot dogs and hamburgers), and fireworks (legal and otherwise). Some kinds of Americans indulge in a better-than-thou ritualized patriotism (a word I had better save for some other post) that involves inappropriate and sometimes wrong flag worship. Many of these “patriots” leave flags out in rain and unlit at night, perversely believing that the illmannered and actually disrespectful “display” proves their Americanism. It instead simply revels the profundity of their ignorance of simple flag etiquette.
Various authorities reprimand us, as I just did, I guess, for not feeling sufficiently reverent about the aspects of our society that they wish were most important. Often we hear on this day that for us Americans it is “America First” (a jingoistic falsehood) and “America, right or wrong.” That second is a lie which Mark Twain, a self-promoting entrepreneur and noble-spirited liberal, exposed more than a hundred years ago: “Even a burglar couldnʼt have said it better.” The United States are only as good or right as we citizens make this nation be. Nothing is given, nothing is certain; everything is our obligation to fulfill.
Of late the conservatives have taken to yammering about “freedom not being free,” by which they mean the Fourth should be another Memorial Day or Veterans Day in honor of militarism and those who do and have served in the armed forces. I have no problem acknowledging my debt to those who have fought for the country (as I have not); after all, the actual events this date commemorates led directly to the second successful armed rebellion in European history (the first also being British, the puritanical Civil War, and an inspiration to the so-called Fathers of this country, whose characters I have wearied of various parties — and currently companies via advertising — ennervating). I do have a problem meekly bowing my neck to the yoke of military authority and militarism in general (my biggest problem with overpraised President Reagan, besides the criminal activities engaged and enabled by his regime, was his administrationʼs bullying of tiny countries as his government tried to flex American military might on the world stage). A free people is not enserfed to its military — nor to its Homeland Security. But those conservatives are right (in a perhaps unintended way): we each are only as free as we individually strive to be.
I also question mindlessly submitting to other powers, less visible (deliberately) and frequently corporate. Free citizens do not serve corporate domination (instead those big businesses should be serving us, if they want to make money). Just because big companies worry about being investigated and regulated by government bureaucracies is no reason for me to sell my citizenship and permit commercial rogues free rein to do as they please. Free enterprise/capitalism is at best a theoretical construct never actually, fully attempted in real life (except perhaps by criminals, those close peers/mirrorimages of businessmen, and their behaviors are not conducive to making freethinking citizens believe that corporations would perform any better than a gang or a Mob, both of which also seek monopolization rather than genuine free enterprise). “Big government” (which I must assume is covertspeak for socialism/communism, because no “True American” would ever want to share with anyone except close relatives and identically thinking political kin) is a bugaboo invented to keep the consumers quietly and obediently consuming (with perhaps a sop to those unAmericans who wish to pay no taxes whatsoever — talk about dreamy, pie-in-the-sky nonsensical otherworldly visionaries).
On the other hand, I do not want my government intruding unnecessarily into anyoneʼs life, least of all my own. But governments make laws, which do intrude clearly on our personal liberties. However, we have agreed to permit those restrictions in order to enjoy other possibilities, like safety and even actual free trade. Government exists to permit many individuals (hundreds of millions, in our case) to be able to live and thrive together peacefully and cooperatively. I have no wish to strive under a communist dictatorship, however much I believe it is my governmentʼs duty to provide for the common welfare and help me avoid being fleeced by criminals and cheats (corporate or otherwise) or killed by violent crazies. It should be my freedom to waste my life if I choose rather than work with all my other comrades forever for the greater good of all. No government should have the power to control its citizens. Governments exist to help those citizens. But it is no governmentʼs job to step aside or do nothing; governments do intrude, however much I would like to do whatever I want whenever I wish.
Fortunately or not, we are all compromised in our freedom. We have been since before birth, since our pure little souls would have stood little chance of any life without leeching from and depending upon Mom. And from birth on we have sold away freedoms at every turn. Living within a family is a comprise of personal dignity and personal freedom (as every teenager has figured out) but gains in many other ways as family members support, help and provide for each other. And each family compromises its independence to live peacefully (one can only hope amicably) among others. As a miniscule example — I have to mow my lawn so that your life isnʼt endangered or encumbered by my unkempt potential hazard. (I donʼt know that the poor citizens who leave grocery carts rolling about parking lots instead of reinstalling them in cart holders have understood this basic human interdependent interaction.)
Real freedom is independence of action and thought, thinking and living for oneself. As long as overpaid, overfed and self-indulgent paranoid voices shout to tell us what to think, we need to rear back mentally and question every word. No “news” outlet, by the way, should pimp for its corporate advertisers by attacking the government at every turn, just as they previously pimped for that same government up to two years ago when it featured vapid “leadership” of which Roger Ailes happened to approve (and the “most watched” news “service” is the media, Foxheads).
You should of course now question this tiny voice.