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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Thoughts on July 4

It seems the United States is becoming an increasingly neurotic society.  Every day some phrase or historical fact is under challenge as offensive to someone or another.  Read histories of the Revolutionary era, and see how "political correctness" is not new.  Loyalists and Patriots were, in numerous instances, brutal to each other.  The rhetoric went deep.  Still, I don't find it comparable to today, where one person writes a column and it is instantly on line, picked up and rallied around.  The counters may begin, but both sides seem to break along pre-disposition of viewpoint.  We are not left with any kind of rational discussion, let along debate.  That is because rational discussion is not a goal.  Hypocrisy of position in many instances exist, with a side taking one position that contradicts another in a different, but analogous context.  That doesn't matter any more.  All that matters is power, and beating down the other side.  Aggressive discourse is fine as long as it is meaningful and not purely destructive for its own sake.

What is disturbing is the degradation of any kind of sense of what it means to be an American.  This is not a call for knee-jerk flag-waving o the one hand, or the tear-it-down attitude on the other.  It just seems that few are interested in being an American in the same way they seek to be a Nationality-American or even just Nationality.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, "so it goes."

To participate in July 4, I usually go to the Princeton battlefield where a corps of reenactors demonstrate rifle and cannon firing.  It's a time for personal reflection, and while of course Princeton was not fought in July (but January), being there helps focus attention.  Note the touches of yellow flame in both rifle and cannon firing.

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