Monday, July 03, 2006

Celebrate the United States

For me, the 4th of July is a chance to celebrate the founding of the United States. Why? Because it was, in modern history, the most profoundly radical leap forward in human civilisation.
For today I will ignore the naysayers and those who will point out, many with good reason, the failings of the USA in terms of liberty, the mistakes of the past and those who tarnished the American dream. Today, because this is a chance to celebrate what is great about the United States, and to note why Americans, far more than the British, New Zealanders or Australians, feel pride in the USA. That pride is not a form of tribal knuckle dragging nationalism, of the kind that has left the Balkans dripping with blood, but a pride in a migrant nation of people who fled tyranny, judgment of religion and inherited privilege - to forge something new. 300 years ago many would have laughed at the idea that the migrant colonies in the New World would eventually come to be the greatest military and economic power on the planet. The Cold War saw the USA and its allies demonstrate, profoundly, the difference in both material wealth and personal happiness between capitalism (albeit tarnished) and cold, heartless, authoritarian bullying of the state.
The US Declaration of Independence was the beginning of this - the unshackling of people from monarchy and feudalism, and changing the nature of government - from something done to people by those who knew better than the people, to something to serve people, to protect their rights from the infringement by each other, and by outsiders. It would form the basis for the US Constitution, and the words "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Life being the foundation of all that is humanity, liberty being the oxygen by which humanity lives, grows, learns, invents, discovers and builds and the pursuit of happiness - the purpose of life. This compares to the naysayers, who saw life as being owned by the King, or God, or the tribe - with rulers deciding that men should sacrifice and be sacrificed for some good "greater than they".
No. America is built on the pursuit of happiness - what could be more glorious than that?
So today, have a drink and toast "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - and for a moment think of the thousands who have died for this, and the millions who can not even speak of it.


KG said...

I'll drink to that.
God bless America. Without her, we'd all be on that short and slippery slope to totalitarianism.

Payne said...

Great post! Nice to see something positive being written about the US.

BTW. I've added you to my blogroll