So one of the strange, or at least unexpected, things about how this blog has turned out is that nearly all the readers are international. I do get some readers from the US, but they are actually something of a rarity. I appreciate that. It also feels like a responsibility, because I’m representing my country, and probably not well. I at least hope better than some others, but truth be told, many Americans make that a low bar. Some of us are fat boorish assholes. Some are nice and would give you the shirt off their back. And some are me, generally well meaning misanthropes.
So speaking about Independence Day as if I were speaking to those in my country may not be the greatest idea. So how about I tell you what it means to me, international edition.
Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the British. This country was originally a British colony, and the founders basically said “enough of that”, and declared Independence. They spent the next few decades repelling the British from trying to take the country back, notably in the War of 1812 (not the one Tchaikovsky’s famous overture was written about). So our country was founded on rebellion and fighting for what we believe in.
For the most part, that attitude hasn’t changed much.
My country is hated around the world. I’m not ignorant enough to not know that. It is hated for the same reason it’s loved – we have been a significant cultural driver, exporting our culture around the world, sometimes for the better, but not always. Truth be told, folks, I’m not always a fan of my country’s culture either. I would rather we left countries like Japan alone – by exporting our culture we’ve made it something we’re familiar with, but something else beautiful was lost.
But it is what it is.
I am, on balance, glad I live here, though. My country is a lot of things, but one thing it is really good at is getting on the wrong track, and self correcting. We have this unfortunately novel idea that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, and it is not allowed to infringe on any inalienable right that we already have. What this means is that our constitution does not enumerate what rights we have as people, but instead, what the government is allowed to do. At least in theory, we, the people, retain the power. Sometimes that doesn’t appear to be the case, but sometimes it very much is. Our second amendment, the right to bear arms, doesn’t make sense to most other countries. But it’s one of our most cherished rights for exactly that reason – the government exists at our pleasure, not the other way around.
I think my country is pretty special.
So on this Independence Day, people in my country are going to by visiting friends, having cookouts, shooting fireworks (where legal, and if last night was an indication, even where not), waving flags, having parades, and generally just celebrating the founding and existence of our country. We don’t get everything right. Sometimes we make huge mistakes (like our dementia patient in chief Biden). But on balance, right now, I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else.