Thursday, July 4, 2013

Letters to life: Independence Day

Dear world:

Today's the day America started her revolution. Through years of suffering, of a sort of Stockholm Syndrome: can you imagine the cries? "We can't go to war against Britain! They're so much more powerful. And anyways, it's where we CAME from. We can't fight our birth country!"

Assuming, of course, that it was a former Englishman speaking, since in that period of time, Englishmen were the most common. Of course there were PLENTY of other immigrants, but a lot of them (the majority?) came over from England, or their ancestors did.

What do I want to talk about? Fireworks? Some rant on how corrupt America has gotten since that glorious, morally audacious revolution some centuries ago? Perhaps even give you a "little" history lecture?

No. But I do want to mention something else: some days, when the world seems like a horrible place every day, you just need to celebrate even a seemingly small or distant thing like a war that happened centuries ago. That's sort of why we have holidays -- so we can focus on the good things, even when the world seems like a terrible, awful, nightmarish place.

Sure, I've got the number of stripes wrong and there are no stars...
But we don't need to focus on those wrong, trivial things!
I mean, I could goon about society's gender inequality... the obsessive consumerism... the financial burdens... But I don't need to, on a day like this. I can focus on how the Rev War must've seemed to a simple little Englishman who came over to be a farmer. (See improvised dialogue above.)

That is what we're about, right? As Americans, as human beings... we can focus on one little human's struggles and triumphs, than on a world of trouble. That's why we have story, right? In every corner of the globe. Because of days when we make distant, trivial things a thing close, personal, and worth celebrating.

So that little Englishman -- dead for three centuries, forgotten or maybe even purely hypothetical -- can Rest-In-Peace, because we created a day for people like him, where we can toss gunpowder at the sky and watch it explode as we imagine the cannon-fire to some battle we forgot the name of. AND where we can imagine impossible, highly-modernized people of that era being scared of their very lives.

Have a blessed day! (Even if, or maybe especially if, you are not American -- in which case, you can read this post like I'm from your country, and conveniently ignore trivial things like the flag picture and immigration patterns in the 1700s.)

JDM -- a decently proud American, a human being, and a lover of good stories.

P.S. I haven't actually been reading a Revolutionary War novel that would prompt such an unusual imagining. I'm just like that. Hypothetical Englishman is actually just another voice to my growing repertoire of character's voices (not that he'll be part of a historical novel anytime soon; though maybe a fantasy novel set vaguely in a Rev War-type setting).

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