On July 4 every year since 1776 this nation has taken time to celebrate Independence Day. On that day, thirteen colonies joined in common cause to sever it’s long-standing dependence on England, it’s government of Kings and violently protestant religions, and fractious political turmoils with it’s fellow royal neighbors.
On that day we did not declare our freedom, but our desire to rule ourselves. On that day we did not declare our individualism, our desire to be left alone to fend for ourselves in the world. We declared our intention to bond together in community, to defend one another from the world and from our neighbors. We declared the government of another people had less right to speak for us than a government formed by us. Since that day many other nations have followed our lead and given themselves the power that they had given to England.
Our government is not a separate thing that we can safely loathe. We may loathe it, but only with the intention of repairing it. We must not hate the government and do everything that we can to dismantle what has taken thousands of years for civil society to get to. Men and women who are elected to conduct our social affairs and then use their station to intentionally damage the great machinery of democracy are not friends of us, but our mortal enemies. Intentionally divorcing our institutions from the money they need to conduct their functions is a cowardly act. Taxes are not a burden that should be shirked off. We pay into the society that we live in as a common duty, we gladly accept the parts we agree with, and must therefore accept as necessary the parts that we do not.
To swear at the president and defy him because he is not of your tribe is destructive. It teaches your children the wrong thing. To nullify the constitutionally enacted law of the land because the state you live in does not agree with it is to invite other states to do the same to the laws that you do agree with but they do not. To hold as sacred parts of the Constitution and to despise and defy other parts of it is schizophrenic and doomed to result in a schizophrenic public policy.
Our nation contains within it’s structure the tools and levers to remake it again more in our image. If you don’t think that an imaginary creation of man is a man, but five men have interpreted the Constitution to say that it is, you don’t ignore it, you change it to explicitly say that only a human is a person. Changing the constitution is a power given to us in the constitution. If you think that our constitution give the government the power to control who may own the tools of deadly force, but five men have interpreted the constitution otherwise, then change the constitution to say explicitly what you think it says. If the Constitution does not agree with you you must obey our common law, or change the law.
We must live our lives in awe of what we have inherited. No man ever swore an oath in the US military to defend the flag, or our freedom, or any other thing but the Constitution. The oath binds us to defend the law against all of it’s enemies, foreign and DOMESTiC. If called upon, our military would defend the law against people in this nation who would defy it, as they have in times past. I took this oath four times in my life. Every federal employee and elected official in federal service have also taken this oath at the beginning of every term. If taken seriously, they must all do their utmost to defend the Constitution, and to follow the laws and orders of the people who are in places of power above them. To do so is to defy your oath, and perhaps even break the law.
Sometimes laws must be broken so that they may be successfully be repaired, and we can all cite instances where this is true. Heroes of our history are guilty of this ‘sin.’ All of the founders, Lincoln, King, Ellsberg, Snowden…we are a nation of lovers of the Constitution who have lived the oath, not just mouthed it. To understand the US you must understand these people, and what they are struggling to protect. We are a nation of laws, not men. No man is above it, not the rancher who would not buy the grass he is taking from us for free, not the Governor who would sign a law requiring his police to defy the federal government, not the Judge who would enforce a law already deemed outside the bounds of the Constitution.
I wish you all a joyous Independence Day. Love your family, love your home, love your day off. I will love my nation, and my Constitution. I will love the men and women who have come before me that passed this universal treasure to me in it’s current form. I swear I will continue to defend it, even against it’s domestic enemies.