Friday, July 4, 2014

"...AND BEFORE I'D BE A SLAVE..."

MY THOUGHTS ON INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2014

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry made a speech advocating independence from England.  The end of that speech is rightfully famous:
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
The first shot of the Revolution was fired at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, less than a month later.



Today we celebrate an event that occurred more than a year later on July 4, 1776, when the American colonies formally declared their independence and the United States of America became a country.

The end of the war came on September 3, 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The last British troops left New York City on November 25, 1783.

As the poem says,

Eight years is a long time
To be fighting all the time.

Today, we celebrate Freedom.

A freedom not enjoyed by many, the majority actually, in the early USA - women, slaves, First Nations, among others - and not fully enjoyed even today.

Still we celebrate the ideal of Freedom.




I am a member of the hippie generation and in many ways embrace the values that the counter-culture held dear. In fact, I have always considered myself a part of that counter-culture and still do. Question everything! Find out for yourself! Be who you are, not what others want you to be! Be free! Peace and love and flowers!





Unfortunately, those last two statements are often mutually exclusive. Freedom is often, in fact usually, impossible to gain unless it is fought for.  I have never gotten along well with the peaceniks who want peace at any price, those who believe that violence is always evil and unnecessary. Of course, we all want peace. Peace and love and flowers are very good, indeed, but are dry, tasteless ashes in my mouth without freedom. I am not a sheep to follow the herd to slaughter, to offer my throat to the butcher, to become mutton in the mouth of some tyrant.


If offered the choice - and I am, every day - I must say, "Keep your peace and love and flowers for now. I'll take freedom. Only when I am free will your peace and love and flowers have any meaning to me."




I will echo the battle cry of the Patriots in the US Revolution, the Rebels of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Mandela’s fighters in the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, the Kharkus of the Khalistan movement, of all the Freedom Fighters throughout human history.





FREEDOM. THEN PEACE.
FREEDOM

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