Happy birthday America, and many happy returns

This Sunday the United States celebrates its most important, sacred, if you will, national holiday. Unfortunately, we are so used to simply calling it the Fourth of July that we frequently forget that it celebrates American independence.

Yeah? So what?

What it means is that our forbears fought for the right to go their own way, making their own government and culture and mistakes. It means that we, as a nation, have the oldest democratic government on earth and that we, as citizens of that government, have a voice in how it is run - not just at the federal level, but also in our states, our counties and our cities.

Of course, even if you run a country "of the people, by the people and for the people," no one is going to get his or her way all the time. Unfortunately, public discourse has sunk to such a low level that instead of accepting unfavorable decisions gracefully, we see more and more public animus. This is wrong.

Although we may be independent nationally, we are interdependent individually. Lincoln, in his second inaugural speech said, "united we stand, divided we fall." Although he said it during a great civil war, it applies equally now at a time when political divisions are more strident than they have been in decades.

A confrontation in front of New Freeway Hall a few weeks ago when a right-leaning talk show host incited his listeners to descend en mass because of a poster expressing perfectly legal but politically unpopular support for the armed Iraqi resistance. Without the presence of Seattle Police officers it could easily have turned into a brawl.

Democracy, to work, depends on a well-informed and educated citizenry. It also depends on good faith on the part of all citizens that the system we have is the one we must work within, even when the decisions don't go our way. That is essential to the ongoing urge we all have as Americans for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

[[In-content Ad]]