Brief Reflection on American Independence Day 2019
There’s a special arrogance that comes with founding, for the first time in human history, a nation based on the premise that for thousands of years civilization had it wrong about the polity’s relationship with authority. What we today conceive of as rights were all but non-sequiturs to a time where nobody even knew they could proclaim the right to rights that limited authority. In smaller words, nobody knew how this shit was going to turn out. Yet, here we are 243 years later, with the weight of the world’s authoritarian past still stacked against the American idea of not just liberty, justice, equality within a multicultural society, but one that cherishes a division of power.
The Founders, as Frederick Douglass wrote, “were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny.” Today is as much of a celebration as it is a sobering reminder: The civility, goods and order we take for granted on an hourly basis isn’t normal. It took immeasurable courage to begin and will take the same to preserve for future generations.