Have you seen this 4th of July themed candle? As soon as I saw this red, white and blue jar of love in the store, I felt compelled to rush up to it, yank it off the shelf, and deeply inhale its fragrance. My libertarian friend happened to be there at the time and of course she had the perfect response. Here is how the actual conversation went down.
Me (finally exhaling): Ah — the scent of patriotism.
Friend: Umm — I’m pretty sure patriotism smells like blood and sweat.
Me: Hello? Bottom layer — tears.
On that note, let’s give thanks today, and not for scented candles. For those who’ve bled for us, sweated for us, and cried over the loss of people they loved who were happy to die, not so that they would enjoy freedom but so that we would.
We get to vote – because people died for this freedom.
We get to complain (out loud, in writing, on twitter, via a blog, in letters to the Editor) about the government — because people died for this freedom.
We get to complain TO the government and petition it for a redress of grievances — because people died for this freedom.
We get to have a jury trial if accused of a crime and all 12 people have to be convinced of our guilt before we are deprived of our life, liberty and property because we are presumed innocent until the burden of proof is met by the government — because people died for this freedom.
And more. Much more. I get to have a gun if I want, I get to face my accuser if accused of a crime, I get to remain silent when the police try to get me to self-incriminate, I get a lawyer even if I can’t afford one, I get to accuse someone if they hurt me, and the government pays for that trial, I get paid money to work and I can quit anytime I want to if I don’t like that job (because slavery is illegal), I get to worship God in any manner I choose and government can’t keep from worshiping that way, and if I don’t want to participate in religion, government can’t force me to; and I get to gather with fellow concerned citizens in front of government buildings to protest corruption if I do it peacefully.
If you follow me on twitter, you know I’m quite concerned with a number of unconstitutional laws, such as the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, the FISA amendments, and more — but today is a day for gratitude. And here’s why: any freedoms we lose will not be lost because there weren’t enough patriots happy to die for our freedom on the battlefield of war. Our freedoms will have been lost because there were not enough patriots happy to endure the pain involved in objecting to abuse of power by authority and enduring the consequences of petitioning that authority for a redress of grievances — while still alive. So on this day, Independence Day, I celebrate all of those Revolutionary War Vets who gave their lives so that 237 years later, I could tweet @whitehouse every single day to remind the President that indefinitely detaining people without charge or trial is unconstitutional. If there’s a way to measure the intensity and quantity of thankfulness I feel for these Revolutionary War patriots every time I speak up, out, and against government injustice and don’t get get publicly executed to set an example for anyone else who thinks they might want to follow suit, or disappear, I haven’t figured it out yet.
Also on this day, let’s remember that “freedom” is not intangible. People who are patriotic to the point of being happy to die for their country have assigned a value to their own lifespan, viewing those potentially lost years of life as currency they can use to pre-pay to insure that no government does to us the people — ever again — what the government we originally revolted against did to us, including our own.
Happy 4th of July.