July 4th: Why the Celebration?
Land of the free, home of the brave. July 4th, Independence Day, proves this. Right?
What’s not to like about this holiday? We’re in the midst of summer at this point, BBQ is in the air, we’re out at the lake, on the beach, in the pool, etc. Parties are abound, many enjoying their drug of choice, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, caffeine. Good times with family and friends to be had.
History lessons tell us that we “officially” declared our independence that day, our freedom from oppression and tyranny. We birthed a new nation where all men were proclaimed to have been created equally, that we were to be a nation of liberty.
I look at the society around me and take stock of just how much liberty we have. The picture is pretty bleak. We are a nation of oppression, with little liberty to celebrate. Just what the heck are we even celebrating on July 4th?
I thought we were supposed to be celebrating our freedom, but perhaps it’s just become another day to party for the sake of partying. We surely don’t have much to celebrate about when it comes to being free. Sure, we’re better off than other countries such as China, North Korea, Iran, etc. It’s a sad state of affairs though when instead of being able to talk about all of the freedoms that we do have, all we can do is point and say “at least we’re not that bad!”
Ask yourself, are you free? What constitutes being free?
We go to work every day, constantly trying to make enough to pay for our ever increasing cost of living, constantly fighting an uphill battle that generally cannot be won against inflation. We’re too afraid to strike out for better employment opportunities, especially at a time when unemployment is high, and underemployment is around 20%. Upset with the meager compensation we currently get, but fear losing even that because of the burdens that could befall us and our families.
You’re free to work and shop at one of the businesses that in all likelihood took your money in the form of a subsidy, used it to build their business, then hired lobbyists to ensure that their competitors went down through favorable regulation. You’re free to pay these businesses for their continued economic enslavement of everyone. Better businesses rarely seem to come, it is by design that we see a stifling of good economic competition and opportunity in this country.
We’ve got business ideas, but it’s tough to get in the game when the deck is stacked against you. How do you thrive when businesses have their hands in the government, twisting regulations in their favor, making it hard to just get off the ground? Who do you turn to for start-up capital, the bank? The same bank that finances overpriced homes with money that didn’t really exist in the first place due to our love of fractional reserve banking. Not to even mention the tax burdens here. We’re also free to pay our taxes, and if we don’t the IRS will penalize us, take our property, and ultimately throw us in jail.
Who really even owns their own home these days? You get to pay for your home by making interest payments to the bank on money they got for free from the federal reserve, and if you miss too many payments because of a tough economy, you lose it all, including what you already payed in. Of course there’s a lot of people out there that bought a home and couldn’t afford it from the get go. It’s one hell of a racket though where the banks win no matter what.
And what if you do own your home outright, no payments to the bank to be made? You still don’t own it, you’ve got to pay rent to the government on it, or else the tax man comes and takes it away. Let’s face it, you don’t own anything, you’re just a glorified renter. Never mind the power of eminent domain where the government takes your property and ends up giving it to some private business so that they may profit from it. It doesn’t matter if your family has lived their for one year or a hundred.
What kind of society do we live in where people get thrown in a cage, not for harming anyone, but for consuming a substance that others deem either immoral or so “dangerous” that it must be illegal, all part of a drug war that serves only to fuel drug cartels and street gangs, while doing far more damage to people’s lives than drugs themselves could ever do.
One in six people are in prison these days for simple non-violent drug offenses. We are a nation that is home to 25% of the world’s prison population, more than China, and now with the National Defense Authorization Act, you can be detained without cause, or you could find yourself on a government kill list, since it is now acceptable for US citizens to be assassinated.
There are so many laws on the books that everyone, every day is breaking some sort of law, most of the time entirely unknowingly, and while police and other government officials along with celebrities get near immunity, they throw the rest of us under the jail. That or you do what they hope you do and make it easy for them by taking the plea bargain, because even if you are innocent, you might still be found guilty, and even if you aren’t found guilty, you’ve still got to pay court and legal expenses, as well as time lost from your personal and work life.
We’ve got freedom of speech, so long as you buy the permit or stand in the designated free speech areas, far away from the crowd so that no one can hear or see you. We’ve also got the freedom to fly on an airplane, provided that a TSA agent can either feel you up or look at nude scanner pictures of you, never mind that these security measures provide no real level of security considering that at times their fail rate approaches 80%.
We have the freedom to use the internet largely unrestricted, for now. No thanks to recent government assaults on the net in the form of SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA. If we’re not careful, we could very well lose our freedom in one of the last frontiers of liberty. If not for the massive groundswell from the internet, the charge being led by very notable internet businesses, we would already have lost.
Home of the brave?
We are a nation of apathy, instant gratification, and fear. So afraid to take chances, to deviate from the norm, unwilling to invest in anything that doesn’t produce an instant result. A nation ruled by a fear of terrorists who killed all of 17 US civilians last year, comparable to the number of furniture related deaths. What do we have next? A war on desks?
We are so afraid that we dedicate well over a trillion dollars per year to “defense” related programs, serving only to enrich the military industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about while making ever more enemies abroad and directing much needed resources out of an already weak economy into inefficient means of destruction. All the while going deeper into debt to the banks that already control vast swaths of our financial lives.
We’re too afraid to get involved in our own political system. Yeah, it’s hard and time consuming, but it ultimately boils down to fear. People are too afraid to invest genuine time and money into a candidate’s campaign, either dismissing or ignoring them because they can’t win. Too afraid to talk about even the most basic of politics with anyone, afraid of a confrontation.
For those who do participate every two or four years, which isn’t nearly enough, many are at the point of extreme partisanship where people are so afraid of the “other” candidate that they are continually gored by the horn to their left or right, playing that game of lesser evils, like a hamster on a wheel, too afraid to give a third party or independent candidate a chance. A fear that is so blinding that people fail to realize they are playing a rigged game.
During a time when SWAT teams are regularly busting into homes, often the wrong ones, shooting pets and harming innocent people, it has gotten to the point where people are so afraid of their government that they won’t even so much as sign a petition to get an issue or candidate on the ballot because they fear attracting attention to themselves, genuinely believing that the police are going to come to their home all because of a simple signature or association. Not to mention the fear of voicing an opinion on a controversial matter. And if it isn’t the government they’re afraid of, it’s their peers, or the fear of losing their job.
In fact, it is our very willingness to not speak out that keep us in these chains, allowing others to have such immense power over us. The herd mentality of keep your head down and stay quiet may allow you to keep living, but at what cost? We’re so afraid of offending others to the point where people can’t tell others a simple truth for fear of not just hurt feelings, but repercussions and retribution.
People are living their lives in cages of fear, a far cry from the land of the free, home of the brave.
This is not to say that people should live their lives without regard for others, to lose perspective for time and place of action. However, unless we live our lives in such a way where we demand and exercise freedom not only for ourselves, but others as well, even those we have a strong dislike for, to push back against the tide of tyranny, then there is no real point to celebrating this day of freedom.
By: Stephen Carter
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