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Independence (?) Day 2013: An Irreverent Redaction

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Glory Old by Marta Steele

It's been 237 years since Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. So many people look back and lament, imagining what the founding fathers might construe of this compost heap that is our present tense. But I think they might gloat, the United Kingdom become our willing poodle as our military forces occupy most of this poor old world.

  It took us a while, and in that process we learned that power is a prostitute, drooling over its Himalayas of lucre. One cannot exist without the other. Somehow British power was so tasteful by comparison. The British thought they were educating their subjects, disdainful though they were, while we corrupt ours at best.

  If power was married to money, the couple now lives in sin. Eve Marie Saint and Peter O'Toole have given way to Lady Gaga and P. Diddy. 

  So we're far from independent, far from those wild horses still allowed to gallop over the plains. I've said before that "all men are created equal" was to be read literally, with women, slaves, Native Americans (the real citizens), and unpropertied men of whatever color barred from the polls, which were corrupt. The Indians were "those savages" after all.

  Who pursued happiness back then? Locke's perception that life and liberty were associated rather with property was far more accurate. Is happiness the warm gun all the colonists had to own back then? Happiness was and is, you guessed it, Himalayas of lucre. I had a schoolmate who literally grinned all of the time as a trust-fund baby. I bit my nails as the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, gifted as I was by comparison. Nothing is uglier than bitten-down nails stained with the grime of singing for your life.

  What's happiness, Tom Jefferson, one of the few happy people who's graced civilization with the erudition he had time to pursue? And when, Tom Paine, my favorite founder, have times not tried men's souls--you left out us women and ethnics though you probably encompassed men without property, as a precocious democrat. The twentieth century and its parodic follower, "nowadays," have certainly tried many souls.

  Governments are " deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"? Maybe in socialist Europe, where they have some inkling of that notion, that the people deserve some aspirin and chicken soup in return for their taxes.

  "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"? Well, the lower two or three classes don't have the money or leisure to do that. There was and is a Tea Party, one mocking Native Americans and the other hating them and aiding "the enemy." Who's HE these days, Mr. President?

  More foresightful are the words that follow: ". . . all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."  How long will government's evils be sufferable, what with unemployment compensation now a memory and the unemployed considered lazy and shiftless? Double their percentages to get the truth, Nate Silver. Without Headstart and WIC, where goes our future? ("He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people"): Not enough Exeter and Andover preppies to encompass it, not even with the token inner-city kids they take in.

  And who says that Harvard grads must run what's left of this country? What a mess. Give Slippery Rock a chance to teach us something. Abe Lincoln's formal education " consisted approximately of a year's worth of classes from several itinerant teachers," according to Wikipedia. Most of it was self-taught. How many of our Harvard grad leaders were on scholarship? Wisdom, not happiness, is needed these days. What would honest Abe say were he to return "nowadays"? "A zombie's mirage?" "Give me the grave any day?"

  King George III (Jeb Bush eschews this title) " has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. . . . He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance . . ." Did you read that insurance from employers was postponed by Obamacare as too complex to implement sooner? Surely you read about George II calling the Constitution a piece of paper? It was and is written on linen rags, Stupid, not trees.

  "He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people." Who's invading the rights of people these days, if not soaking teabags?

  " . . . the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within"? Not!! How's come? Too much teargas and too many tears? When we rally, it's the police they send to meet us, kids's daddies, not anyone in a position to do more than defend their own persons.

  " . . . refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands?"

  Shall I continue? The best is yet to come--where Mr. Jefferson (he lacked a PhD) calls the Indians savages. And what of Wikileaks?

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http://www.wordsunltd.com; http://www.editingunltd.com

A jack of some trades, writing and editing among them, Marta Steele, an admitted and proud holdover from the late sixties, returned to activism ten years ago after first establishing her skills as a college [mostly adjunct] professor in three (more...)
 

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all... by E. J. N. on Thursday, Jul 4, 2013 at 1:59:05 PM
Most thought-provoking. It occurs to me that democ... by Marta Steele on Thursday, Jul 4, 2013 at 3:58:35 PM