Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrating Freedom

So, we're back. For those of you who haven't figured it out by now, holiday weekends that take me out of town usually are blog black-out days, since I can't always get an internet connection and I don't feel like inconveniencing everyone for the sake of a few posts. Really, this is a sign of confidence and security in my blogging habits. I can stop whenever I want to.

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We are once again presented with a holiday which I simply don't know how to celebrate. Celebration was never an issue for me before, at least in my adult life, because holidays were primarily a day that other people took off work, and a day I could work in relative peace. While I was no scrooge when it came to other people observing holidays, I never really made such days my own.

But now I have kids, and I know that a part of being a good parent is providing seasonal rhythms, and setting examples, and finding the right occasions to symbolically mark significant things, etc. etc. To be honest, I've been leaning on the Waldorf school to do a lot of this, but now school is out and we are upon the one holiday which I belief deserves more attention than it usually gets, which is Independence Day.

Yes, all the religiously observant are rolling their eyes, because I haven't put Christmas or Easter at the top of my list of holidays-whose-true-spirit-is-not-observed. And the politically involved are also rolling their eyes, because in the midst of a controversial war all things patriotic are viewed with suspicion, since every side (the hawks, the doves, and the rationally ambivalent) are draping themselves in the flag. (Terse disclaimer: absolutely nothing in this blog should be construed as a position on the war.)

But I stand by my claim: few know how to celebrate this day. Independence Day is not merely a jingoistic rah-rah-we're-the-best holiday. Unlike most other countries, this country was founded on ideals, and those ideals are literally what make us Americans. I think the man on the street, when asks about "freedom," thinks immediately of political freedom, or maybe freedom of the press, or (more rarely) freedom of religion. Which is all true . . . but I don't know how many realize that every good thing we have in this country, especially the material and economic, are also rooted in this freedom. Yes, we're rich in natural resources . . . but then again so are lots of other countries. Economic freedom, free markets, and free trade are what put us over the top to become the most powerful nation in the world.

So, when you're thankful for living in a free country, you should not merely feeling a half-hearted smugness at being able to vote (a privilege which only a minority avail themselves of, anyway) or being able to say what you please (which even fewer put to any decent use) , but rather be thankful for every freaking thing in your freaking life. If I was feeling especially blasphemous, I would say that there is more evidence for the providence of freedom than for the providence of God . . . though I know I would be wrong, since this freedom itself grew directly out of our religious and spiritual values.

We put up a new flagpole this morning, and as I unfolded the flag I felt genuine reverence, because the values and ideals that are embodied in this flag are the Spirit at work in the world.


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