Progressive Graffiti

A Not-So-Proud July Fourth Message

I’m not celebrating the Fourth of July this year, and I don’t mind. I’m going nowhere nonessential, until the COVID-19 crisis is over! Besides, I’m not so proud of my country right now. The United States is climate-emergency complicit. It failed to implement well-known pandemic best practices. Jeff Bezos is richer than ever, while major portions of the country tumble down a plunging economic spiral. Police Violence is uglier than ever, which their treatment of #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protesters proves.

Normally, I don’t contemplate the misery of others in order to feel better about my own situation. But this Fourth of July, I’m going to engage in that practice. There were times in American history when people had it worse than we do: African American slavery; the Trail of Tears; worker exploitation, including child labor; robber barons and gross economic inequality that led to The Great Depression; the 1960s assassinations and Kent State Massacre; etc. (Notice these soul-breaking trials resulted not from foreign aggression, but from the consequences of our own character flaws.)

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So I remember dark times in American history, because we’re in one right now. If the nation survived earlier tragic epochs, maybe we can survive today’s calamities. Maybe current atrocities will push us to advance and evolve. Greater minds than mine are open to the possibility.

The following media may spark hope in the weariest patriotic heart.

‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech | NPR

The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms. In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” ~ NPR

Learning from Eugene Debs’ Mission | Bernie Sanders

The Purpose of a Democracy

My own words, and those of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, allude to the parenting role of a democratic people.

I believe we may still raise our government up to behave like a responsible adult — by using a fair measure of tough love. Protest! Protest! Protest!

Happy Fourth of July.


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