By Paul E. Gable
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. — Declaration of Independence
In case you forgot, today is the Fourth of July, which is also known as Independence Day.
You remember that holiday, don’t you? It’s the day when Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans and Independents all shoot off fireworks, beat our chests about how we are devout lovers of the Declaration of Independence and talk about all the great works that our Founding Fathers did in 1775 and 1776 to put a new country on the path to being great.
However, this July 4th, I have to admit, I feel more like Frederick Douglass did in 1852 when he spoke about what July 4th means to the Negro in Rochester, New York, than I do of a proud American. I know, I shouldn’t find myself asking questions like: “Is this the land your Fathers loved, The freedom which they toiled to win? Is this the earth whereon they moved? Are these the graves they slumber in?”
I know I shouldn’t be wondering what to the American slave is your Fourth of July. I know I should be jumping for joy that (at least in the minds of a few), America is the super power nation that doesn’t take any crap from anyone, including one of its own citizens who released information.
But, I can’t. Not, this Fourth of July. Not when Americans feel anything but free as scandals continue to break about drone strikes on our own citizens, my cell phone conversations and emails are being monitored and the federal government knows every single thought I have before I think it.
Sorry to disappoint, but this Fourth of July, I do not feel free.
When our gay brothers and sisters are having to get married in secret and our government is in the business of who is in your bedroom, I have to ask how free are we, as a people? I have to ask what truly happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
How can you feel free when free when citizens continue to be fearful and timid and give up essential liberties?
Our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they saw the country they fought for, bled for and died for. The Founding Fathers knew what liberty meant. They knew and understood what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was about. If we had to approve the Bill of Rights today, how many would be approved by Congress and the states today?
Our Founding Fathers would be horrified watching people subject themselves to pat downs to enter their own house, the state capitol, in Indianapolis.
Our Founding Fathers would denounce our secret laws, the “no fly list” and the overreach by presidents and governments. Hell, didn’t we fight a revolution because we were tired of the overreaching?
Our Founding Fathers would have embraced a whistleblower like Edward Snowden, rather than calling him a “terrorist” and “traitor.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to be an American. I know many on both sides of the extreme, outer fringes of the two tired political circles will call me un-American and un-patriotic. To them, I say, you are incorrect. I do care about my country and am patriotic. However, I believe that if we are truly going to be free and truly celebrate the Fourth of July, we ought to remember what is at stake and ask the tough questions.
As you set off your fireworks, I’ll be there watching, but I’ll also be remembering the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
(Ed. Note – Paul E. Gable is a graduate of Loris High School and Newberry College. He is the editor of the Shelbyville News in Shelbyville, Indiana.)