“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” ~ Coco Chanel
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” ~ Ronald Reagan
When George W. Bush was President, Barry said, “I’m grateful to be an American, but not always proud.” That’s how I’m feeling today, and I’m not alone. Alex Tanzi of Bloomberg published an article July 4th titled, “Americans Are Less Proud to Be Americans This Year.”
In fact, Tanzi says in the article that our level of pride is at the lowest point it’s ever been. Less than half of Americans consider themselves, “extremely proud” of our country. And if you ask them how they feel about the political, health, and welfare systems, only about a third of respondents say they are proud.
Since the day before yesterday was Independence Day in the U.S., many of us had a chance to reflect on how our country got started, the mistakes we’ve made in our history, and what changes we’d like to enact to make our country better.
It’s a 4th of July tradition at our house to watch the musical 1776 by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, based on their stage play of the same name. Now, I know, there are lots of people who don’t like musicals because they aren’t realistic, and they’re schmalzy. But this is not one of them. It shows the congress passing silly and unnecessary resolutions, John Adams and his harshest critic and opponent, John Dickinson, getting into a physical fight, and the intense struggle to even get the idea of declaring independence from England to the floor for debate. And once Thomas Jefferson has written the document, it is ripped to shreds by the delegates.
The dialogue is snappy, at times funny, and at times tragic. The songs move the story forward with the sentiments being debated among the delegates, and the personal struggles of the main character John Adams.
You may not know that Jefferson included a clause in the Declaration abolishing slavery, but, of course, the Southern delegates would not agree to ratify it if that clause was included. This debate is summed up in a beautiful and devastating song, “Molasses to Rum”, in which Edward Rutledge of South Carolina sings about how the Boston shipping companies, participate in the slave trade by trading molasses for rum, and then buying slaves and taking them back to be sold in the New World. John Adams may want the Northern colonies to be blameless of slavery, but they aren’t, and this song brings that fact to the forefront of our consciousness. Other songs, like “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” and “Momma Look Sharp” are equally as moving in different ways.
This movie shows what a wonder it was that the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the delegates of all thirteen colonies. And it’s even more surprising that we eventually won the war against a vastly superior foe. Miracles happened, but we were born a nation with blots on our ledger and more than just the fact that we continued to allow slavery in our new country. The government promised the Native peoples things, which they didn’t keep. There was also religious intolerance from the beginning, and women, of course, were not granted equal rights.
I know that none of us get away from facing our “stuff”, the mistakes we’ve made, the wounds we have inflicted, or suffered. That goes for individuals and nations too. We’re at a critical juncture in this country. We need to address those old, old wounds that were left unresolved by the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
There are days when I’m tempted to bury my head in the sand and not deal with my part in where we are as a country. But in my personal life, I’ve worked to clear out the things that were unhealed and something about who I am can’t turn my back on the problems we’re facing in this country either.
As the last strains of the finale music from 1776 played, I said to Barry, “This movie gives me hope.” What I was thinking was how miraculous things happen against all odds when we least expect them to. But miracles don’t happen in a vacuum. We have to work for them in both big and small ways. I’m probably not going to be like the Founding Fathers, but I’m committed to doing by part in small ways.
Just writing this blog post makes me feel better. I’m still not happy with the human rights violations, corruption and dalliances with dictators of this administration, but I have to remember that this country is made up of lots of people who were fleeing TO freedom. And in the end, I can’t see us allowing ourselves to become victims of a dictator. At least, I hope we won’t. I’m praying for another miracle.
Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Welcome to my new followers.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.