Posts Tagged ‘Independence Day’

Albany, NY has some wonderful fireworks each year on the Empire State Plaza downtown.

Unfortunately, in the past few holidays, there’s been lots of competition from private individuals, and it has only became worse in the last two years when the Albany County legislature allowed individuals to buy items that had previously been banned.

The 4th of July was on a Tuesday in 2017, but I heard what sounded like a war zone each night from the 1st through the 5th.

I did laugh nervously when the family visited a CVS drug store, in adjacent Greene County, in June. Store space devoted to the fireworks was accompanied by a sign that warned people not to smoke near them. Smoking is illegal in most stores anyway, but it such an absurdist thing to see in a building that houses medicine and a pharmacy.

The three of us traversed out to see the downtown fireworks from the soccer field behind the high school, a couple miles from downtown. I had made a point of wearing ear plugs, the kind one uses to block out snoring or the like. I was very happy about that, because the competing local ordinance was close by, and therefore LOUD.

Unfortunately, the haze from the fireworks was THICK. As someone described it, “It was like morning fog by the river in the fall.” There is a potential impact on respiratory health to boot. I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city, antipathy for the new law.

As it turns out, the nearby Schenectady County legislature voted to ban, again, fireworks, but it widely ignored. Easy enough to do since all the counties around Schenectady still offer them for sale.

Googling for this post, I came across this story about pets suffering from late night fireworks. But it was about Albany, GEORGIA. So we’re not the only Albany suffering.

For ABC Wednesday

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I have found many things that have taken place on the political landscape in the last six months or so worthy of celebration.

There have been protests, many of them local, for banning the bomb, upholding women’s rights, protecting the immigrant and the refugee, saving the environment, and several other causes.

People are becoming actively engaged in the political process, working on special elections, running for office, or at least considering it. They are showing up at town halls when members of Congress come back to town.

The veil is coming off FOX “news”. Yet other news outlets are thriving.

A couple interviews on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah in June 2017, on successive days in June 2017, gave me encouragement. William J. Barber II is shifting the moral conversation about the poor, a group neither major candidate for President talked about last year. Among other things, Rev. Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement.

I was also taken by John Avlon. The Daily Beast’s Editor-in-Chief was promoting his new book “Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.”

George Washington feared, he explained, that political parties would “push a narrow, self-interested agenda that would block the national interest” and “create a deadlocked and dysfunctional democracy” that would leave citizens “so frustrated by the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that it could open the door to a demagogue with authoritarian ambitions.”

And by demagogue, I mean “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

So on this Independence Day, it is important to note the words of another of our Founders, Alexander Hamilton: “Of those men who have overturned the liberty of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by playing an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”

We must always push back against tyranny.

redhotblueA couple months back, I was thinking about how Independence Day has traditionally made me cranky. I was going to do a piece called The Wrong Question/The Right Question, and I even asked folks to help me.

A couple examples:

The Wrong Question: Whether we need voter ID.
The Right Question: Whether we have polling places open long enough, and staffed well enough, to accommodate voters. Failing that, whether mail voting would be a credible solution.

The Wrong Question: Whether people on food stamps should use them for buying steaks.
The Right Question: Why many of the the working poor make so little that they’re eligible for food stamps.
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In my annual (at least) reading of the Declaration of Independence, I have been thinking a lot about this section:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly 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. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

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This year, in addition to reading the Declaration of Independence – I’m sure you’ll find it somewhere, consider reading Frederick Douglass’ July 4, 1852 address, only a portion of which has been included here. And if you’re in Albany, NY area, check out a speaker on this very subject this morning:

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation…. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence… Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier…
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