If this be treason, make the most of it! – Patrick Henry
Tonight at 10:30 p.m., if the weather decides to behave, I will look up into the sky and behold one of the greatest spectacles to be found anywhere in America. The July 4th fireworks display, combined with the musical stylings of the Boston Pops, is one of the tall reasons I am proud to call this dirty old town home.
All those pretty lights in the sky, however, will do nothing to obscure the brutal truths facing America. As we celebrate the anniversary of freedom, we become more and more each day a country that seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word.
Instead, we are becoming a nation of people barricaded in our homes and mesmerized by the pleasant fictions burbling from our televisions by way of “the news;” barricaded behind closely-held opinions based upon those lies, upon hate, upon fear; barricaded from our proper place as controllers of our political destiny by an avalanche of money unleashed through the Citizens United Supreme Court decision; barricaded from our very own own streets by iron-handed police tactics designed to strangle and crush any voices raised against the collapse of all we hold dear as Americans, police tactics that make even photographing those police tactics a crime worthy of physical assault and prison time.
Climate scientists are warning us that this summer’s extreme weather, heat and fires are what global warming looks like. It is staring us right in the face, if we would only choose to see it. Well, this moment is also what the end of America looks like, and it, too, is staring us right in the face.
Will we choose to see it before it is too late?
Even now, as we celebrate our so-called freedom, hundreds of brass-bound criminals walk the streets of New York City with our hard-earned money falling out of their overstuffed pockets. These people stole from us, from all of us, and remain thoroughly unpunished.
Even now, as we celebrate our so-called freedom, hundreds of out-and-out war criminals live lives of ease and splendor, having escaped even the mildest censure for lying us into war and consigning millions to death, disease and permanent injury.
Even now, as we celebrate our so-called freedom, sweeping trade negotiations go on in secret that, if enacted, will permanently enshrine corporate power over the democratic process.
Even now, as we celebrate our so-called freedom, the President of the United States has a list of names on his desk, and can, with a phone call to the drone patrol, delete one or all of those names from the list of life.
There are plenty of people who will tell you, for the reasons listed above and so many more besides, that America is already dead and buried, murdered by the greed of the few and the ignorant indolence of the many.
I refuse to believe that, and in a single word, I will tell you why.
Yeah, sure, we are told that the Occupy movement is over, finished, and irrelevant, but I strongly disagree. It is relevant because it happened: the passion required to bring needed change to this nation is out there, all around you, and the evidence of that was there for all to see last year. That passion, that desire, and those numbers are still there, multiplying and gathering strength for the struggles to come.
Occupy, like all the other great movements in American history, is passing through its infancy. The civil rights struggle was an afterthought in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, until the slow and steady groundswell of popular support delivered the Civil Rights Act and the end of legalized Jim Crow racism in America. The anti-war movement was barely a blip on the screen of popular consciousness for many, many years, until it exploded everywhere, ended a war, and took down a president.
That infancy will end, and when it does, we will be participants in and witnesses to another moment in history, a moment when the righteous tide will wash in and sweep away the filth that pollutes us as a people and a country. So long as the idea remains, the reality is within our grasp. We face so many huge problems in this country today, but the solutions to those problems are right in front of us.
That is what I will be thinking of tonight, as I look into a brightly-lit sky and imagine the possibilities.