Bill Moyers Essay:
On July 4th
On July 4th
"Welcome. Here comes the Fourth of July, number 236 since the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence and riders on horseback rushed it to the far corners of the thirteen new United States -- where it was read aloud to cheering crowds. These days our celebration of the Fourth brings a welcome round of barbecue, camaraderie with friends and family, fireworks, flags, and unbeatable prices at the mall.
"But perhaps, too, we will remember the Declaration of Independence itself, the product of what John Adams called Thomas Jefferson's "happy talent for composition." Take some time this week to read it -- alone, to yourself, or aloud, with others, and tell me the words aren't still capable of setting the mind ablaze. The founders surely knew that when they let these ideas loose in the world, they could never again be caged.
"Yet from the beginning, these sentiments were also a thorn in our side, a reminder of the new nation's divided soul. Opponents, who still sided with Britain, greeted it with sarcasm. How can you declare "All men are created equal," without freeing your slaves?"
"So, the ideal of equality Jefferson proclaimed, he also betrayed. He got it right when he wrote about “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As the core of our human aspirations. But he lived it wrong, denying to others the rights he claimed for himself. And that's how Jefferson came to embody the oldest and longest war of all --the war between the self and the truth,
between what we know and how we live."
"So enjoy the fireworks and flags, the barbecues and bargain sales. But hold this thought as well -- that behind this Fourth of July holiday are human beings who were as flawed and conflicted as they were inspired. If they were to look upon us today they most likely would think as they did then, how much remains to be done".
The Great Bill Moyers - HERE
In The Meantime...
"When was it that reality, after enduring decades of chronic abuse by Americans, turned away and hid its face among the stars?
It’s not like reality has ever been the foundation for the United States of America. The fine, idealistic, abstract language of the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the American Constitution came out of a tradition of British utopian fiction.
The Puritans wrote of a Shining City on a Hill, even when there was no city and no hill. Thomas More gave the world the ideal state, Utopia, which like a lot of ideal states, depended on slaves to do its dirty work. British colonists in America wrote of, and on, the blank parchment of a rich, unclaimed continent, even when they knew it would take a couple of centuries of genocide to scrape that parchment clean. Jonathan Swift gave the world the airy, arrogant, disconnected country of the smarter-than-human Houyhnhnms.
The slaveholders and oligarchs who wrote the American founding documents were good writers, but they used their skills to write exceptionalist, democratic, rights-of-man fantasy. That fantasy was a deliberately constructed alternative to the official reality of their day—the British Empire, its monarch, its well-drilled military and its machine-like factory workers—and they more or less made their dreams come true,
if only on pieces of paper."
Born down in a dead man's town