Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Because I’ve had the privilege to travel the world and see other forms of government and countries with far less opportunity, I can say with absolute certainty, that despite the issues that tend to tear Americans apart, we have the greatest country and form of government on earth. While I rue the partisan politics that brings government to a standstill; our republican form of government beats autocracy, plutocracy, theocracy, military juntas, communism, socialism, dictatorships, social democracy, and parliamentary systems hands down. And I find it spiritually uplifting that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – our founding fathers who were both bitter enemies and closest of friends – breathed their last on July 4th.
Few things bring the meaning of American freedom and independence to ones core more than celebrating the freedoms we often take for granted while living outside the USA during wartime. During the first war with Iraq while I was living in Hong Kong, expatriate Americans celebrating Independence Day at the American Club with fire works, good food and drink, and anthems to America blaring over loud speakers. I am not ashamed to say it brought tears to me eyes with a fervent love of country and pride.
During my two Independence Day celebrations in Taiwan, the American Chamber of Commerce sponsored celebrations with picnics, fireworks, and absentee voter registration drives. It did not matter what political affiliation…we celebrated the liberty incumbent in the right to cast a vote – and wonder why so many Americans with the right to vote don’t exercise that right.
It is funny that I felt more in sync with my American brethren while I was living outside the USA than I do working in the District of Columbia today. We tend to look at our country through different eyes when we are removed from it. Maybe it is more precious when we don’t take our blessings for granted – such as the sheer variety of offerings in even the most humble grocery store in the USA….the abundance is something one sees nowhere else.
We are blessed to live in this country and should celebrate our liberties everyday and exercise our privilege to vote during every election. Those that risked hanging by signing the Declaration of Independence would be mystified why so many Americans fail to exercise their rights to vote. And those of us who weren’t given the right to vote by the founding fathers have a greater duty to vote – to honor those who came before us who fought for the rights of women and Blacks.
Think about this as we celebrate the independence of those 13 states that would ultimately because the United States of American. It is more than fireworks and sparklers and cookouts and a day off work….it is our celebration of liberty.