(Note: I wrote this hours before the heinous July 4th shooting in Highland Park, IL. I delayed its publishing to respect the victims. Sadly, it rings truer today.)
It used to mean something positive, our dear little Independence Day.
Not so much anymore. We are not independent of so many important things.
Like the insane skreeds of a former President, who caused death when he incited insurrection at the nation’s Capitol last January 6th, and who still babbles about a “stolen” election. Donald Trump now resembles a sad madman, lurching about town, in unhinged, loud narrative of imagined past slights.
We are not free of the tyranny of certain out-of-touch, uber-conservative Supreme Court “Justices,” who imperiously reversed the Row v. Wade abortion decision, a vital womens’ health decision of some 50 years’ standing. (Note that they waited until after respected liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, as there would have been hell to pay from her, fighting them to a man [and one woman] against the decision.)
The reversal of Roe threw to the States the right to dictate control over our reproductive health, even possibly restricting women from crossing state lines to obtain needed services. This will result in mothers’ deaths, more infants surrendered to overburdened state welfare agencies or simply abandoned, and criminal prosecution of women unfortunate enough to live in non-abortion states.
We are not independent of certain police, who continue to attack first and ask question later, particularly when it comes to people of color. Too many still are being wrongly targeted and even killed. (My old friend, Paula, a world-weary, perceptive black gal, used to call getting pulled over a DWB – Driving While Black.) Did the George Floyd case and so many others teach law enforcement nothing?
We not free of perversion of the Second Amendment, i.e., the interpretation that everyone has the right to firearms of all kinds, a major reason for our mass-shootings du jour. Assault weaponry only law enforcement and the military need is obtained by mentally unstable or simply soul-sick people of bad intent, who then kill at will. But the gun lobbies rule our legislators; too many in Congress have been bought. We will never have a federal law with any real teeth that bans possession of assault weapons, ammo and accessories from the general public. Congress represents not us, but only its own interests.
We certainly aren’t independent of hatred based on race, religion or sexual orientation. There still exists too much everyday, tacitly-tolerated bigotry. But our mass killings go further, often targeting some group of Americans – children, Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Christians, gays. Often the perp is a young white guy, blinded by hate, with a trail of motive-breadcrumbs left on social media. How do folks so young attain such a level of hatred, and at such young age? Is it learned from the family? Is it genetic malfunction? Are they steered by some cult-like leader/hate group? And how do we stop it?
My solutions to all of this? I can only think of three things: corrective education – of our police, our kids, each other, vigilant family teaching by word and example, and conscious, researched voting.
Compared to most countries, America at 246 is an upstart, still learning. As such, much fuckery abounds to be corrected. But I so want to believe that we can do just that – through intelligent voting, perseverance for the greater good and real regard for each other.
May we one day be truly independent – of the self-imposed chains that bind us all.
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