(We’re in the middle of a satisfying Shaman Path weekend, and will report on it by the first of the week. Meanwhile we thought you might enjoy a piece Wolf wrote about the 4th of July, being published in mainstream and even conservative papers)
Today is a national holiday created to celebrate the unending struggle against conformity and control, dedicated to the principals of human liberty, regional autonomy and individual rights: Independence Day! Not “Dependance Day,” mind you. Nor “Obedience Day.” The political spin doctors and Madison Avenue flag merchants may have done their best to turn it into a high dollar weekend and “boost to the economy,” a veritable paid advertisement for the status quo. To others of us, it is a celebration of our right to say “no!”
This country was founded by revolutionaries, for goodness sake! Believe it or not they were labeled “terrorists” by the privileged English monarchy, no doubt because those wild eyed visionaries packed an attitude that just wouldn’t quit. Leading up the Revolutionary War they were effectively vandals and saboteurs, philosophical party-hearty hell raisers fighting what most of us today still consider to be “the good cause.” With so much blood having been shed to win our rights including free speech, privacy and redress, the signers of the Constitution would likely be mortified to see their Bill of Rights gutted in the name of “increased security.” And likely the last thing they would want to see hundreds of 4th of Julys later, would be rows of unquestioning and well behaved citizens all lined up in matching aluminum chairs, nodding their heads in unison while some scoundrel in a suit presents a passel of lies under patriotism’s guise. Bear in mind that those beautiful fireworks displays we enjoy today were originally intended to symbolize the exploding shells of terrible battles, and to celebrate what it means for a people to risk their comforts, their profits, and even their very lives in order to defend precious personal liberties and do what needed to be done.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for 4th of July parades. In the past I’ve gotten a kick out of watching the marching bands, and the children waving from flower bedecked floats. But why limit the parades to Main Street, U.S.A., when we have a point to make and something to say? Why not reroute them instead, parading for individual responsibility, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, parading not down the street but through the halls of government! I can see it now: underage activists and wilderness restorationists, fed up farmers and preschool teachers, irate mothers and economically depressed senior citizens, making the case that our land, freedoms and hopes have champions, that what we value most is in more danger from the freedom spouting, oppressive earth-razing dominant paradigm than any number of turbaned Jihadists. Resistance to a wrong is not just for conservatives or militaristic males, it is the birthright and too often concealed attitude of women tired of oppression and militarism, of children insisting on having their own minds. The rattlesnake was an early symbol of liberty and American resistance, but perhaps the bulls snake works even better. The bull snake, after all, has no interest in biting anyone its not trying to make a meal of, seems to love a life of peace in the sun, and can even be picked up so long as we don’t try to hurt it. It is, however, one of the only animals capable of taking on an aggressive rattlesnake, not only defeating but eating it.
“Learn to leave well enough alone,” I’ve heard many people say… but given what’s being done to ourselves and our planet, it might be better we stand up for what’s right each and every Independence Day.
Have a great holiday weekend–
-J. Wolf Hardin
(bull snake photo by J. Wolf Hardin)
Categories: Jesse Wolf Hardin – Essays & Tales