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Monday, July 09, 2012

Independence Day Reflection

I know that July 4 is behind us, but permit me a moment--I am that bother-ed. Sometime during the day of July 3 a comment was directed to me about observing our nations Independence on July 4 that disturbed my felicificabilty of the day. The comment was “Our flag still fly’s [sic] – not the union jack. Isn’t it nice we still speak American and no bloody British accent!” I was then encouraged to think about this throughout the day. Well, I did—and still am—and all I get are just questions. Is the reason for the patriotism of July 4 our accent and our flag? Did I celebrate because I don’t sound like someone else? Is it “nice” that I can pronounce my “r’s” unlike, I dunno, a New Yawker? If this is valid, then what is his reason for celebrating? I have a friend who lives in New York, but asking him would only bring a resounding “Shaddup!” Oh well. Moving on . . . Hey, did you know the English think we Americans sound quite silly using the emphatic “bloody”? Just tossing that in there. Also, if accent and flags are that important, what do we mean by playing the 1812 Overture on our nations birthday? This Russian composition celebrates the failure of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia in (can you guess?) 1812. Maybe it’s because the piece makes the same sounds as the gun club that meets back in our woods during (or not during) hunting season and those violins do sort of sound like a pack of baying hound dogs. I feel guilty for enjoying English tenor Russell Watson’s performance in our nation’s capitol on PBS’s “A Capitol Fourth.” Was he singing in Italian while honoring our upcoming Olympians? Am I to use my American freedom to complain? I find myself siding with then Samuel Johnson, the Englishman who drew the line between true and false patriotism when he wrote against John Stuart in April 1775, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” As I have reflected the past few days on this matter, other important questions come to mind: 1. What is this “independence” we celebrate as a nation, and how do we still have it? 2. What is “freedom?” The ability to do anything what we want, or everything we should? Evangelist K.P. Yohannan prompts a greater reason to celebrate who we are as a nation while also challenging us to do something with the freedom we have. “Why do you think God has allowed you to be born in North America or Europe rather than among the poor of Africa and Asia and to be blessed with such material and spiritual abundance?”

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