Monday, July 4, 2011

It begins with a Declaration

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and
the pursuit of Happiness.


Lee Greenwood follows the National anthem,
reminds us, we are proud to be Americans,
where at least we know we are free and our
hands never leave our chests until we cheer,
air filled with cordite smoke & brilliant
flowers of light pierce the dark stripes
of space between heaven's stars---

are these the same truths we still believe?

all men, now being all people, does this
extend beyond our borders or are we the
chosen elect of 'our' Creator, others should
strive to be? or is it 'our' responsibility to
spread, like butter on mama's corn bread, filling
in the crannies with 'our' brand of goodness?

by whose standards are life, liberty & the
pursuit of happiness measured?

dare i ask---who snuck in an 'unless' over the
edit caret, when we legislate who one can
marry, deny healthcare, or---far too many things
to list but perhaps these are best held for
non-celebratory days

as with the last several years, i sit on a
blanket covering a small patch of green sixteen
at the country club, across the ravine from
those that can afford such things. There are
more on this side than years before & we are
thankful, grace given to slip the fence to
enjoy their festivities.

pop pop kshisss fssss pop kshiss

a fiery glow lights my sons' faces, frozen
in delight & i need not pursue happiness much
further than these crumbs from the table, of
kings and country, at least for tonight.

The opening of the Declaration of Independence is probably the most well known nice in our nation's history. As I was reading it again last night it just got me thinking in light of our present political/economic climate and the days to come for our proud country. Thank you to all those that serve to preserve freedom every where.

72 comments:

Sandi McBride said...

But we all know that freedom is never free, Brian...it is an evolving thing that gets better with time if we play our cards right...I pray for the day that we are able to beat our guns into plowshares to feed the nation if not the world. As long as one child goes hungry, or one person is jailed for daring to want freedom or independence then freedom is still just a concept.
Sandi

Anonymous said...

Could the question be freedom at whose cost? Freedom for one country could be bondage for another. Given the wars being fought in the middle east at the moment, one could very well say that 'freedom' is a disguise under another heading: cheap crude oil!

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, well said, Brian!

TechnoBabe said...

If only the country were more equal. Your glimpses into the changes since the freedom was won in 1776 shows how we have strayed from what was meant then for us, and for our future generations. Today is indeed a day to celebrate. We all make up this country, we are indeed free. I have to agree with Sandi McBride's comment. We all have our opinions but we do have to be silent neither in praise nor in regret.

Daniel said...

Stand up and join the chorus, this is our protest song. As you say, maybe best saved for a non-celebratory day. I hear you brother. Sometimes you just feel kind of small and the problems are so far beyond any of us to even get close enough to touch. Do you best to enjoy today. Live, love, and smile, for tomorrow is another day.

Katherine said...

How wonderful would this world be if the words written in the Declaration of Independence, were in fact the reality & not something that had to be fought for. The right to equality (in every facet of the word), life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness, should be more than a dream, it should be a given! I often wonder if I will ever in my lifetime see a world without war. I certainly hope so!
I am however ever so grateful to those that lay their lives on their line to keep our countries safe... but I pray for a day when they can put down their arms and enjoy lives riches.

Brian have a wonderful 4th of July..Happy Independence Day to you and your family.

DJan said...

Well, Kris Kristofferson said it well in "Me and Bobby McGee": Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

The image of you sitting on your blanket watching the fireworks with your kids... will illuminate my whole day. The concept of freedom will always come with a price, but we (we being America) should realize that we have ours at the expense of other nations.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

two thumbs up!

Everyday Goddess said...

i think there have always been well intentioned people, and there have always been unwell intentioned people, influencing politics. It's a pretty good reflection of our society.

There are those of us who strive for good for all, and there are those for whom an idea like that is so threatening that they will do what they can to stop the common good.

Not until a majority cares about what happens to total strangers will there be any movement towards equality.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I also wonder as I read, my mind wonders/wanders the truths that I hold to be self-evident, that we are created free to pursue life, liberty and happiness,

I have found becoming a part of the society surrounding me comes at a cost though.

Upholding my rights comes at a cost, just as it did when the small group of like-minded people decided to take on the establishment who was housed across the pond.

How often do I already believe I'm entitled without realizing the cost, without realizing the sacrifice, without realizing the truth?

Beautiful reflection Brian.

Ali said...

This day is always interesting to me as an immigrant to this Great Nation.... I have to say at the risk of playing devils advocate that American's aren't as free as they believe they are. Way too much emphasis is placed on "lines" and where they are drawn, you are as free as you want to be within your own constraints.
Lovely post tho'.. we too will be on a blanket later watching the fireworks, one of our favorite evenings of the year :) Happy 4th my friend!!!

Help! Mama Remote... said...

Wonderfully put, Brian. I can truly say I'm glad to be an American. We've come a long way & have so much farther to go. However, I'm still glad to be an American.

David Allen Waters said...

miller...you always leave us thinking, and this wonderful write is no different...perfection

Kulio said...

Nice - I had my boy to myself last night and we huddled under a blanket while paper from the fireworks drifted down all around. We were also strangers in the area. Nice.

Hilary said...

Wonderful post, Brian. You never fail to get to the heart of things.. or to get to the heartstrings, for that matter.

Bossy Betty said...

Food for my brain and my soul. Thank you.

kaykuala said...

Freedom, cherished by all, enjoyed by many but denied to a few.

Happy 4th of July to all!

Valerie said...

There is too much deviousness, greed and wickedness in the world for any one to know true freedom. But no-one can alter our faith.

Happy 4th Brian.

Fireblossom said...

For goodness sake, Brian. "All" doesn't mean ALL. It doesn't mean gay people or brown people or anybody who speaks some weird language or stuff like that. Geez.

So, happy 4th! Freedom! America! Yeah!

CM said...

"i need not pursue happiness much further than these crumbs"....Awesome! I agree.

I still can't get my boys to like fireworks! Oh well, maybe next year.

PS. There's a html error in your 5th paragraph. The "and" got garbled. Just FYI.

Margie said...

*a fiery glow lights my son's faces, frozen in delight & I need not pursue happiness much further than these crumbs from the table, of kings and country, at least for tonight.

Wonderful!
Happy Independence Day, Brian to you and your family!
Have a wonderful day!


Margie :)

Ruthiey said...

Great question. "by whose standards are life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness measured?"

Hey Brian, I just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful comments you leave on my blog. You are so encouraging. Thank you.

rosaria said...

You do get real, and for that, for these words and these sentiments, I'm proud to know you.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
What an excellent post...On this 4th Of July, I will play the words that comes to mind in order to keep my comment short:

Honesty,questions,wars,equal,inequality,unequal,declaration,truths,family,fireworks,hypocrisy,hopeful,sons,poets,Brian,Of in-dependence,Claudia, truth,founding fathers,thanks,for, sharing,happy,4th,Of July...pop pop kshisss fssss pop kshiss

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
Honesty,
truths,
family,
fireworks,
hypocrisy,
hopeful,
sons,
poets,
Brian,
Of in-dependence,
Claudia,
truth,
thanks,for,
sharing,

Words that "ran" off the page...

Claudia said...

it begins with a declaration..and then it needs people who live it...what i like about you americans is that you are so proud of your country - even if things are not exactly the way they should be..the health insurance discussion was something we were following here in germany on tv with big interest as for us it's normal that everyone does have a health insurance. we germans have a bit problems in being really proud of our land because of the two world wars we were starting but sometimes i think we should learn a bit from you americans regarding this..

Bonnie said...

It takes someone who knows how to observe, be present, think beyond the obvious, to cut to the quick, to dare to speak the truth ... Thanks for being that someone, Brian.

lori said...

Good stuff, Brian. One of my favorite quotes from Lincoln is, "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." Americans have become masters of superiority. But, I'm beyond grateful for those who fight for the freedom we do enjoy.

Pat Hatt said...

Very loaded question
As the gap seems to keep growing and what once was stated is becoming more and more of a suggestion
As greed runs everything
Same song just different idiots on high starting to sing
Is a day to celebrate though
So I won't rant here at your show..haha

happygirl said...

Of course the freedom all the crazy people in America take for granted is not free. Of course you can hate on conservative patriots. I know many of them that have died to give you this privilege. Of course you can hold your hand out and expect my tax dollar to fill your palm. And God bless you if you are a country we have the privilege of fighting. My tax dollars will rebuild and restore you. Happy Independence Day and I pray God still deems to bless America.

Sue said...

A really good poem always brings out strong feelings. Well done!

Some of the comments this morning sent my thoughts in a direction I'd like to share. America is indeed an imperfect country, and freedom is an ideal lofty enough to keep us striving forever.

But cynicism is a dead-end street...and a nation is like any living thing. If we don't believe in its essential goodness, we won't be able to call that goodness forth.

Our children change when we love them enough to hold them to a higher standard...when we believe in them to the extent that they come to believe in themselves.

Our country is the same. We need to hold it accountable, strictly accountable, but the spirit in which we do that means everything. Building character works better than tearing it down.

It all begins with us, as I see it. We need to become as good as we want America to be. And then we need to get out there and make a difference.

Happy Independence Day.

=)

The Bug said...

Amen & amen!

Natasha said...

And again we dance with the perception of reality, viewed differently depending on which bank your sitting on. Another thinking write, which means my best efforts at catching up on comments probably ends right here where I started. Hold your fire while I ponder this further. Hope you enjoy Independence Day as much as I enjoyed July 1st. Friends, family, fireworks...hey, it's pretty good afterall! (And maybe one day we can meet up on the links!)

Tara Miller said...

America and the people who live in America are far from perfect but I think today is a day to reflect and be thankful for our blessings, our "freedoms" and those that paid the price for it. You give us much to ponder, love. Thanks!

Laura said...

These are such good questions, Brian. We are a chosen nation--not defined by geographical boundaries. That should change everything, but sometimes...it doesn't. Probably most of the time, sad to say. Happy Independence Day, friend.

Steve E said...

"God Bless America"...

California Girl said...

Well versed Brian. I feel your/our pain. Interesting discussion to that effect on the Diane Rehm show on NPR today. Perhaps you can find the podcast. Had to do with the wishes of the Founding Fathers when they set forth to create this nation.

Happy 4th to you, your wife & boys.

Brian Miller said...

you know i enjoy provoking thought and some very well spoken comments here...sue i agree...and in writing this i know that we experience freedom many others do not here in the states...i do think there is a growing divide as the middle class dies a slow death that will come back to haunt us...but it is our responsibility to do something about it...as i closed, we do owe a big thank you to those that serve here or abroad for what they give to us...

Brian Miller said...

as to the question of cost i think we only have to look at the men who signed their name to these words...committing treason in doing so...as the example in that...

Pat said...

I think as great as our country is, there definitely is room for improvement.

hedgewitch said...

The people who shout about the Constitution and the DOI the most have never read it, which explains a lot. They think the founding fathers were Rothschild Goldman and Sachs. I like your take, my friend, and happy fourth anyway.

Baino said...

Happy day. Have a crack at this. Old but good, very good: http://irrex2.blogspot.com/2009/07/american-independence.html

ayala said...

Brian, so many truths here.... And so much to be thankful for at the same time. Love this. Happy 4th.
I hope the wedding was great family time :)

Madame DeFarge said...

Sometimes I bemoan the loss of all the red bits on the map. But hope you had a great day :)

emmettwheatfall.com said...

Brian, with this piece you are at your best. Riping and exposing truth and untruth poetically. This poem represents the poet speaking as social, political, and economic prophet. Hands down, I adore this piece.

farmlady said...

Well intentioned people have an agenda of their own and there will always be a golf course or a war zone in between.
I agree with Nietzsche...
"My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (--its will to power:) and to thrust back all that resists its extension.
But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on--"
from The Will to Power,
Happy 4th of July??

Mama Zen said...

Perfect, Brian.

Deidra said...

This is wonderful and so thought-provoking. Thank you!

Heaven said...

Freedom might be relative to some, but for some of us (non US) it is precious because we have felt the price of not having it. I love these lines best:

by whose standards are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness measured?

Happy July 4th and nice to see you back ~

Betsy said...

some very good thoughts!

Jen said...

Tis true we are far from perfect...things in our present and out past that I am not proud of...but I'm still proud to be an American. That is a great song.

Ocean Girl said...

it must be harder on you when you see as you do.

happy 4th of july brian, hope you and family had a great weekend.

Kaylen said...

LOVE this:
dare i ask---who snuck in an 'unless' over the edit caret, when we legislate who one can marry, deny healthcare...

Who indeed....women were second class, african-americans were second class...and we still live with homosexuals and the poor being second class. It's tiring. And so sad.

emily wierenga said...

that last stanza, brian... wow.

yellowhousecafe said...

It seems that we both had a bit of an axe to grind today. Very much appreciate your POV, Brian. What is wonderful about this country is the freedom to post what you just wrote. I'm reading The Heart & The Fist (humanitarian turned Navy Seal) whose college visit to China in the 80s brought to light just how free we are in certain realms of government. Many things these days I dislike, but I do enjoy the ability to assemble, speak and protest...that said, big brother is probably watching (akin to that Gene Hackman movie which I now can't remember the name) bottom line...we are free, but the cost can be great ~

adeeyoyo said...

Aaah, beeuutiful... It all needed saying, Brian, and you have done it so well! Congratulations - I hope it will open some eyes to what is important and what not! Give your boys a gift for the future...

lucychili said...

a very good question.
i have been thinking lately a lot about
how western democratic countries
and capitalist economics are both structured around subjective competitive ideas. they both are structured around the idea that i am special, and that i compete. this imho is why we have structural problems about functioning ethically in both a social and ecological regard, because our structures are built around striving for right of way for the self.
we could do with some structures/conversations which start from a different core value.

Lorraine said...

'Freedom Everywhere' you've said it Brian and for everyone and no buts about it...
For everyone
for anyone
for no one
for all

Mrsupole said...

Sometimes it is hard to understand how much freedom we have here in America, but once you live somewhere where they do not have our freedom and you have to follow their rules even though you are an American, you begin to understand how precious freedom is.

Those of us who have served our time to make sure that our country always has this freedom as a group in general has a different view then those who have not. I think it is because we know what could happen if we lost our fight to keep America a free country. We love this country and are willing to give everything for this country and an idea that began more than 235 years ago. We know that our country may not be perfect, we know that our people have flaws, we know that our officials in Washington might have corruption amongst them, and they may not always do what is best for the American people, but we do know that we are the protectors of this land and we will always do what is best to protect it.

What I love best about this country is that maybe some could not afford to be on the paying side of the ravine, but those paying for the show willingly shared with those who could not. And without those who could pay, there might not have even been a show for those who could not. So even though some think there is such a divide, when one truly thinks about it, there is not as much as one thinks.

No one here is supposed to be denied healthcare, check out any ER and see, it is just when our government tried to "force" us to do things, that is when we see a small slice of freedom taking away from those being forced. Some may think it is fine to force people who have more to give some of that more to those who have less, mostly because they think the "have's" should give to the "have not's" to be fair, but any type of forcing with one think makes those in power think that they can then force others to do other things. Then before anyone even knows what has happened, the "freedoms" we once all enjoyed are gone. Go over to Cuba and live there for ten or twenty years and you will wish you were back living here with every imperfect flaw that we currently have. Go live in many other countries and you will feel the same way. I know I lived in one. I have almost no desire to ever leave this country but for some exceptional countries that are almost as free as America.

So I will say that I am PROUD to be an American, flaws, imperfections, and everything else wrong with it, because we are a country that has people who died to give us these freedoms and we have people who will still die to let us keep these freedoms.

I love America and I love everyone in the world (hate some of the governments though), and I love them enough to let them choose how they want to live. Just wish we could all live in peace.

God bless America and may America bless God.

PS...Probably have to divide this up due to word count, but thanks Brian for letting me leave a long comment.

the walking man said...

Have you ever read the second epilogue of Tolstoy's War and Peace? I think that pretty much describes how and why we believe that our nationalism is patriotism in this day and age.

I am free because I make myself so on a daily basis not because some 235 year old paper said it was thus.

Cheryl said...

I often wonder the same things. When my thinking gets too cumbersome, I too, turn to what's right in front of me to remind myself of what I have and the gratitude I have for those who've made it possible.

Tabor said...

Very nice. Glad I stopped by today for a break in my house cleaning!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

As always, great words and a thought-provoking blog post. Hope you had a good 4th July, Brian.

CJ xx

AmyLK said...

definitly giving us things to ponder and think about. very nicely put. Hope the fireworks were fabulous!

ds said...

Wonderful. Thank you.

trisha said...

sounds like india to me.

Bernie said...

An interesting thread Brian, I live and love Canada, love my neighbours to the South but realize nothing is ever free. I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July with your family, we celebrate Canada's birthday on Friday, July 1st - BBQ's, Family and Fireworks, love this day.
......:-)Hugs

Goofball said...

I've always found it intriguing that the pursuit of Happiness is explicitely in there....very interesting



the word "created" & "Creator" (with capital C?) strike me for the first time

Magpie said...

Very well thought out and very well said. It was very enlightening reading the comments to this post. I am proud to be an American.

tracy said...

I wonder the same things, Brian. "American Exceptionalism". Was that what they meant?

Dave King said...

This is full of good things. Equally so as verse and as prose poetry. I have read it a couple of times now and shall read it yet more times. I think this one will last with me. (Apologies if this is a duplicate.)

Syd said...

I still hope for liberty and justice for all. We still aren't there yet. A nation as divided as we are is troubling to me. But we still have much to be grateful for.