The 4th of July is always a moment of reflection for me. In much the same way a devout Christian examines his faith at pivotal moments in the Julian calendar, I retouch the things that make America unique in my mind. For me, the essence of America is simplified in three words: Fireworks, Firearms, and Freedom.
This year, where I am spending my 4th of July, fireworks are banned. Apparently the authorities believe Fun might be a fire risk in the tinderbox known as Colorado. Only three days ago we recognized the implementation of new (and overly strict) firearm laws in my home state. It might also be worth noting I’m currently making payments to the IRS in an attempt to maintain my “freedom” as an American.
This made me start to think: What are we celebrating?
It is clichéd and redundant to simply recognize our nation as an experiment in democratic Representative Government. And, for as much as our politicians have changed the foundation of this nation in recent decades, we celebrate the same thing this 4th as we do every fourth. Our founding. We are not recognizing the continuation of the Republic as we know it. We are not celebrating the survival of our Constitutional government. We are celebrating the nation’s inception.
The brilliance of our nation resides mostly in our faults. For many, it feels as if our republic is slipping away. This, however, is nothing new. Federalists, conservatives and constitutional loyalists undoubtedly felt very similar in the days of Prohibition, the New Deal, or reconstruction. But the 4th of July is not about the current state of our Constitutional republic; it is about the creation of a new nation. A new nation, that promised to be anything the masses desired. We inherited a republic, but we can leave any version of government we deem suitable to our children. Democracy? Technocracy? Socialism? The brilliance of America is evident in its fragility.
For the first time in human history a government was created that allowed “We, the People,” to own our own destiny.
Our Nation was designed to be a Republic engaged in a constant state of Identity Crises. We are blessed with a political landscape that challenges the citizenry to evaluate – on an uncomfortably routine basis – our priorities, rights, and willingness to hold on to the republic that we inherited.
So, while I will be unable to fully celebrate my three pillars of American Liberty (Fireworks, firearms and individual freedom) I will be celebrating the birth of the fragile American exercise in self government. And, just as importantly, I will be celebrating the opportunity our nation represents.
Happy Fourth of July.