The Fourth of July 2011

This July 4 marks the 235th year of American Independence.

It is a worthy occasion noting the anniversary of one of the great days in world history.

If you are the type who appreciates history, the 235th anniversary of anything is a major occasion.

If you are a European, there are celebrations that go back almost eight centuries, such as the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Widely regarded as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy, the Magna Carta was England’s Declaration of Independence.

Long before that there was Roman democracy, which lasted about a century although the empire went on for about 1,500 years.

And before Rome there was Greece with about 200 years of democracy, which died approximately 400 years before Christ.

And before the Golden Age of Greece, there was what the French philosophers of the 20th Century call being and nothingness.

And while French Independence is also something to marvel at, as well as the overthrow of the royal system, which came shortly after the American Revolution, there hasn’t been anything quite like the Declaration of Independence issued July 4, 1776.

The lasting effect of American democracy on the world remains strong today. People by and large, wherever they live or exist, want to be free.

American democracy continues to have its effect on the civilized world – and we shouldn’t for a moment fail to note that what we have witnessed recently in the Middle East, is an effort by the masses to free themselves of the yoke of tyranny in nations where individual rights mean nothing to dictators posing as heads of state.

During the past six months we have witnessed democratic uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman.

Bottom line, people want to be free. People are tired of the party line. Dictators need to pack up and get out of Dodge.

In the United States, we are not collectively worried about being free. We don’t have to wonder about the legal justice system working. Opportunity for the individual to do his or her own thing remains and so too does the right to practice one’s religion whatever it might be. America is still working rather nicely.

What we worry about today is whether or not we are going to survive our financial excesses and whether or not we have the personal fortitude to make the kinds of changes required by the level of crisis we find ourselves in.

Can we weather the economic storm we’ve recently been through and come back?

Or do we die on the vine because we are unable to sacrifice or change?

These are the central questions that dog us during this July – the July of our 235th year of independence.

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