OPINION - “I’m proud to be an American, where ‘at least’ I know I’m free.”
If the mindless dribble of a homogenous monoculture is the epitome of being an American, then galas across the country did not disappoint on this year’s Fourth of July.
Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” likely played at all of them, evoking its intended Pavlovian response from much of the crowd as people sang along with abandon, bursting with pride in their American identity.
“At least” they know they’re free. I wonder.
There is something about that line that strikes me as one of those overworn clichés which has lost its meaning.
Your federal government is passing legislation that strips you of your fundamental constitutionally mandated liberties: Hey, at least you know you’re free.
The corporate cog has corrupted the political process to the point of absurdity and institutes the intentional cultivation of a criminal class in our culture: Hey, at least you know you’re free.
Your country is engaging in the longest and most expansive military occupation of a foreign country since the Romans: Hey, at least you know you’re free.
Mind if I ask what your definition of freedom is?
Perhaps part of the problem is in the notion that we should celebrate the Fourth of July as a victory that was finally and forever secured.
Perhaps singing silly country songs that have the vigor and depth of a critically thinking amoeba speaks volumes of the depth of our understanding of those rare and precious documents from the annals of history, put forth by the founders of this country.
It is almost patronizing to say that we appreciate what they did and all – we know things have gone way off course, but … ‘at least ….’
It is said that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.
Perhaps one way we forget it is in our casual reduction of appreciation for historic triumphs to … “at least.”
In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of the proposition that we are enjoying a sustained liberty as a national people, we have the audacity to throw parties and celebrate temporal victories without understanding or gumption to maintain it.
It defies reason that a people who have so much freedom will give it up so readily. But what adds insult to that injury is how easily this people group is placated.
If this rancor waxes offensive here, perhaps it should. Maybe the offense, to the delicate senses of those who would confuse compliance with patriotism, will wake them from their slumber and provoke us to see that the vitriol and courage of the founders of this nation is sorely needed right here, right now.
There is a time to be angry. “Anger is energy aroused in defense of something good and released on something evil,” Tim Keller said.
And Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Or, I might add to Jefferson’s syllogism, to be partying when there is a war going on.
I am wondering, when we will get angry about the erosion of liberties hard fought for, at the corruption and indulgence that is crippling our economic base, and the utilization of our men and women in military in ways that are costly in lives and resources in forays we cannot win?
The ephemeral nostalgia evoked by a fireworks show and a feel-good pop song will hardly inspire anyone to do much more than go home afterwards and wake to find the same place they woke up to the day before. Proof in the pudding? It’s been two days since the national birthday party – how did you wake up this morning?
Now more than ever in the history of this once great nation, a people must forgo the celebration for a time, and refuse to allow the sacrifices of those who secured this nations liberties to have been made in vain. We the people need to reclaim our independence and not settle for any kind of panacea that shrugs and sings, “at least.”
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.