Today is US Independence Day, the commemoration of the adoption by the Second Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence of what had been colonies from Great Britain (although the dates are wrong; the vote was on 2 July, and the signing on 2 August). It is traditionally held to be a celebration of freedom from foreign tyranny, although there have long been and continue to be reservations about it.
Two hundred forty-six years on, arguments still rage–and move into violence at times, too often–about what freedom and tyranny are, and there continues to be opposition to the exercise of rights by populations traditionally exploited and denied those expressions, denied recognition of their humanity, even as those in power and empowered sputter on about the ways in which they are oppressed and claim that those who are oppressed even now should be thankful that they do not live elsewhere, where they would “really” be oppressed. And it may be the case that overt oppression is not as extensive in some places as others, although I note that the comparisons are rarely made to other industrialized nations than the one whose birthday is celebrated today. (I note, too, that many of those who claim so much love for the country that they willfully ignore its flaws and failings–which does not seem to me to be love, but what do I know?–had to be forced into its service, whether de jure or de facto, and they rail against being asked to put their resources to its support even as they benefit, directly and otherwise, from the expenditure of others’ resources to that end. But I digress.)
That it is relatively less–which may well not be the case; I know the positions of privilege I occupy keep me from experiences and understandings that may well nuance or overturn that assertion–does not mean it is little enough, though. The promise, of which the nation too often falls too far short, is of an increase in freedom, a lessening of oppression, and it won’t be fulfilled until it’s all done. And that seems quite far away today.
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