by Kevin Burton
Some things have changed since the time I spent all day and night watching Walter Cronkite anchor bicentennial coverage for CBS. Some things have stayed the same.
I was close to turning 13 then. You can say that the USA depicted on television July 4, 1976 has disappeared. You can also say it never truly existed. You can say it continues on in the minds of the credulous, like a movie set, a façade designed to seem solid under a certain light.
This is not something I can wrestle down to everyone’s satisfaction, or even to my own, in 700 words in this format. It suffices to say, Independence Day isn’t what it used to be for me.
Sunday will doubtless be a time of reflection, but I can’t afford to linger there.
There is a very good book I will recommend here, “American Nations” by Colin Woodard. It was a new Republic Best Book in 2011. For my blind readers, it is available on BARD.
Woodard identifies 11 distinct “nations” on the North American continent, distinguishing them from the three political states, Canada, The United States and Mexico.
The 11 nations he identifies are based on which peoples populated North America, where they came from and what values they brought with them.
If you’re diagnosing the problems of the United States only by the current ultra-toxic red state-blue state divide, you’re missing something very important, Woodard says.
There are other writers who divide North America using different borders. Woodard and the others have done the research to legitimize what I know by feel.
Having lived in different parts of the United States and travelled to others it’s obvious to me that the United States isn’t united at all, except as a military protectorate. Woodard says it never was.
Woodard points out that unifying the American state is not as simple as getting back to a certain set of core values, because there are in fact eleven sets of values coursing through the veins of the state.
The book, useful as it is, is flawed in that it does not properly address indigenous people in the Americas.
See, told you this wasn’t easy to wrestle down.
Poked some fun at myself last week on the topic of overthinking (“The Final Musings Of Captain Sage,” June 26). After reading today’s post, you may think I have forgotten those lessons.
Well, no I haven’t. Here’s some clarity on Independence Day, flag-waving or not, and pledging of allegiance.
First of all, as evidenced by my Sunday series from the school for the spiritually blind, you know my first and really only allegiance is to the kingdom of Heaven.
But in the context of American Independence Day, these are my thoughts. I am a political centrist. That is a vanishing breed in the USA or at least a non-vocal or shouted-down breed. I will not be surprised to get no credit for these thoughts.
I pledge allegiance to the constitution of the United States of America. It is the constitution, and nothing else, that separates the USA from anybody else.
I pledge allegiance to the men and women who will interpret it fairly, follow it honestly and defend it against all people foreign or domestic, who would subvert or overthrow it.
I understand the notion of “not my president,” but I can’t go along with it. If your preferred candidate doesn’t win, you can say “not my choice.”
Depending on how strongly you feel about it, you may say the person is a terrible president, unqualified, an embarrassment, whatever. But if the person was fairly elected, then for better or worse, that person is your president.
A much more useful notion I am beginning to think about is “not my countryman.”
In other words people who can’t take my constitutional pledge, if you’re actively working against the constitution, I don’t think of you as my countryman.
This has relevance in the context of Woodard’s book. But on two other levels it does not.
I hope to wake up tomorrow. If I do, it will be as a citizen of Heaven, with discussions of earthly nations interesting but irrelevant.
It will also be as just a guy, a pursuer of baseball and hot dogs, with profound gratitude for what the American state has allowed me to experience in life.
Happy Fourth kids!