So, I’ve read the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. I’ve read articles and pamphlets written by the Founding Fathers. I’ve read Thomas Payne, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington – I’ve taken American politics and American history. I have even watched the HBO mini-series on John Adams. Now, despite the fact that I was not alive at the time these great men in American history were making history, and that I am not an historian and have not done extensive research in the field – I think it is safe for me to say that my credentials (just listed) at least give me the right to say the following:
There is absolutely no way in hell the Founding Father envisioned the American dream as celebrating the birth of the country with blowing off each other’s arms and drinking Coors Light. Fuck yeah, America – fuck yeah.
And it is not just the celebration of the independence of this nation that has turned into a drunken festival of debauchery, yelling, and carcinogen-rich bar-be-que. Almost every holiday in the United States, today (even ones that are celebrating the holidays of other counties – e.g. Saint Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo), is accompanied by nonsense I find it highly unlikely the Founding Fathers would have condoned. If we are going to commemorate the achievements of these great figures in history, shouldn’t we at least consider how they would have preferred we do so? As humorous as it may be, I find it difficult to envision John Adams and Thomas Jefferson celebrating the independence of our country by doning their best pair of overalls and shooting fireworks off each other – all while seeing who can guzzle more Bud Light Lime before smashing the cans on their foreheads.
Why has this happened? Is it that the pressures of American society (with a floundering economy, a destroyed housing market, and an endless series of international and domestic hot and cold wars since the early 1900’s) have just driven people to let loose and embrace this seemingly unhealthy behavior? It would seem this to be likely, except that the holidays ala Bud Light and an unprecedented numbers of “Driving Under the Influence”-arrests have been going on for decades now – for decades before America became the pitiable nation it is now. On the 4th of July, Americans have been blowing off body parts with unsafe fireworks displays for well over sixty years.
Perhaps it is the Founding Fathers for whom we are to actually blame for this sense of unrestrained freedom we feel we have – this freedom to celebrate in whatever way we want. If it weren’t for them, we would not have the freedom to set off fireworks, or to even necessarily celebrate for that matter. If they had not fought for our independence, we may still be paying taxes on -literally- everything, and might not be able to afford the alcohol we consume on this fine holiday in copious amounts. Maybe if the Founding Fathers had not sacrificed blood, sweat, and (in some cases) their lives, we would not have been as rich with resources and freedom to engourge ourselves on bar-be-que and as lavishly caloric feasts as we do at our holidays. Every Thanksgiving, the average American consumes over 6,000 calories (three times the daily recommendation). This would certainly not be possible if it weren’t for the contribution the Founding Fathers made to our freedom and liberty. Freedom from oppression; liberty to consume and destroy. Celebrate these American achievements by eating and drinking as much as we possibly can.
There is no way those great men in American history could have foresaw the disastrous affects of creating a nation founded on a cut-throat capitalism and a freedom in democracy that would allow the absolute worst of the state of nature to become commonplace. At the turn of this 234th anniversary of the founding of our great country, though, we must stop and consider whether they took us along the right path. Would we rather have our freedom to do whatever we want – to blow off each other’s limbs with fireworks we are not qualified to use; to drink so much alcohol we don’t even know who we are; to eat as many greasy fried foods as we can in a day? Or would we rather have a little more of a moderation, yet sacrifice some of our freedom? It is more than that, though, for it is our freedom that destroyed our economy (the freedom of banks from restraints on loans; the freedom of consumers to buy on credit without any concern for paying the bills).
I would definitely have to argue that we must preserve and cherish our freedoms and our liberties; but at the same time, perhaps America still is not ready to have the freedom it has had for over 200 years now. For the most principle thing that must come with gaining freedom to do all of these things is responsibility – Americans must also take responsibility for the things they are free to have. I think by and large Americans fail to do this.
Perhaps the real question, now, is not whether it is all worth it, or whether the Founding Fathers would have been happy. For there is no way they could have known what would happen over 200 years after they were all six feet under. The real question is that with all of the hardships America has now; and with all of the concern we see in the faces of the Americans, at the hands of our freedom; with the amount of self-destruction we see ourselves engage in just in a mere celebration: what are we even commemorating? A nation-wide depression? An all-time high unemployment rate? Starving children? The loss of our bodily parts in fireworks accidents? Binge-drinking? Obesity? When we are literally incapable of taking responsibility for the implications of our unrestrained freedoms, what is there really for us to be celebrating?
Fuck yeah, America. Fuck yeah.