July 4, 2017

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
— William Wordsworth

I’m bummed out by all the carping, sniping, finger-pointing, nit-picking, hype, and just plain falsehood uttered by the parade of pontificating, posturing, pandering, puffingut pundits and reporters who even talk through speeches, explaining what I’m perfectly capable of understanding. I’ve almost stopped watching the so-called “news.”
I spent many summer evenings on the front porch with my parents. Swinging gently, they’d chat: “Well, here we are already at the 4th of July.” . . . “You know, Earl, I was thinking. Even though we had the Depression and World War II, we’ve been pretty lucky here in America.” . . .
“You’re right about that. Sometimes I wonder how our forefathers beat the English. And then to come up with a system of government where ordinary people like us can speak freely, own property, and choose our leaders rather than having dictators! I read an article about George Washington that said that they offered to make him king, and he turned it down.” . . . “I shudder when I think about that photograph that Orville took of the stacked-up bodies of starved prisoners when his outfit liberated a concentration camp. I wonder what would have happened to Europe and the far East without America’s help.” (Orville Jones was one of my brothers-in-law.)
“The birthday of a new world is at hand.” — Thomas Paine, Common Sense January 1776
The American Revolution was a triumph of compromise that some no longer honor. These days it’s chic to say that the Constitution is no longer relevant and that its authors didn’t care about people.
When I was a girl people believed in the wisdom of the Founders and revered them. The reality was more complex, according to David McCullough in his fine biography of John Adams who said, “We were about one third Tories, and one third timid, and one third true blue,”
There were bitter arguments. One of the most popular delegates to the Continental Congress was John Dickinson, the Governor of Pennsylvania. He opposed independence and argued so vehemently with Adams that they quit speaking. He threatened to lead his supporters into breaking away from the Congress. Others also shunned Adams.
Then the publication of Common Sense roused the members of Congress, and Dickinson became unpopular in his turn. He refused to vote for independence, but absented himself from the voting so that the Congress could speak with one voice. Even though he was ill and exhausted, he rode off at the head of the first troops to march out of Philadelphia. He is one of my heroes, the likes of which we rarely see today.
These days people swear they’ll leave America if they don’t have their way, although I’ve yet to see them do it! Perhaps they should move to Saudi Arabia where women must wear shrouds, China where they can confiscate and tear down your home without notice, the Congo where rape is a weapon of war, North Korea whose people are being starved to develop an atomic bomb, Mexico where they live in fear of vicious drug lords, Venezuela where food stores are empty, or some of the European countries whose economies are failing.
I am no Pollyanna wearing rose-colored glasses or wandering in a fog. I am well aware of the many problems such as the opiod epidemic here in Indiana and continuing racism and poverty throughout America. However, considering what my life would be in many countries, I’m stickin’ with America! Extreme liberals and conservatives puff that they’re going to take back America. It’s time for all of us to realize that no one has exclusive ownership of America or rational thought. Even those with whom we vehemently disagree may have some good ideas. That Constitution that some decry established the right of assembly and free speech. wclarke@comcast.net