There’s free and then there’s FREE – Some thoughts on Independence Day

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Declaration of Independence

On this day in 1776, our marauding, slave-owning, pontificating forefathers (most of whom had been booted out of other countries) declared this here land they stole from brown folks a country. Happy Birthday, America! We is free… aren't we?

I'm sorry to bring down the BBQ high but I have to wonder... In a country where as of June 20 an average of 842,000 people a week are homeless, 6.8 million people are considered long-term (27 weeks or more) unemployed, 45.7 million people are uninsured and Rush Limbaugh is still on the air… just how free are we?

I mean we've been given inalienable rights and then a whole constitution with a Bill of Rights and twenty-seven (27!) amendments. But it occurs to me that there is a difference between having rights and being allowed to exercise those rights.

How can you pursue happiness without a job? How can you preserve life without healthcare? And perhaps there's such a thing as too much damn liberty if we can't find a way to get the Limbaughs, Becks and Palins to go sit down somewhere. Ugh.

Alright, I didn't want to go all the way in. We're trying to celebrate. And let's face it, raggedy as our collective history may be… America still kinda rocks. The belief that your life can turn on a dime, that you can achieve anything given a brain and opportunity, that we're all in this together (even when we don't like each other), that no matter how bad things get we are determined to find a way to win… all of that is essentially American at its core. Football, apple pie, meat over hot coals and our contribution to cuisine around the world: The Potato Chip. Amen.

I recently invested twelve hours of my life to watch The History Channel's documentary "America: The Story of Us" – I really enjoyed it. For once, no one whitewashed American history (pun intended) and just served it straight… the good, the bad and the ugly. But it was fascinating and far better than any history class I sat through in school. If you get the chance, check it out. Here's a preview:

 

While you're out there celebrating the greatness of our nation, think a good thought for those without the means, the place or the health to truly enjoy this Fourth of July. Send up a prayer with the fireworks and be safe today.