Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Official 4th of July Post- Read it Quick, Before the Vandals Come

Several other people I know have posted 4th of July thoughts on Facebook, or in their blogs.  I don't promise mine will be a masterpiece of writing but here goes.  (if it rambles...well, that's my name.)

Many of us are thinking way past the BBQ- hot dogs and apple pie-setting off of illegal fireworks/terrorizing your neighborhood dogs-traditions of the 4th this year.  This is a sober year for many of us:  continued unemployment, struggles getting decent health care (health care reform notwithstanding) but most of all, watching the continued polarization of our country into two camps, neither willing to compromise, creating a paralysis while the American People suffer.

I'm rarely serious in my blog, but these are serious times.

What I want to say to both of these camps is something that isn't that original.  "We've become a nation of fearful people, a nation of angry people, who just lash out at each other while parroting the slogans of the  radio and television political commentators of our choice.  Is that what we want?  Is that what we have come to?  You are drowning out the voices of the common people, the "man in the street" and the "woman in the street", taking advantage of their fears to gain power for yourselves."

The American People, the true American people, need to take their country back.  I'm not talking Yes We Can here.  I'm not talking Tea Party.  I'm not talking red, or blue, and I don't care which color you support.  This isn't a sleepaway camp color war, folks.  This is our very lives.

I'm talking pride in our country, our community, and taking responsibility for their success or failure. 
I've traveled this country.  I've been to 46 states in a span of about 40 years.  I've met many different people, from many different cultures and "walks of life" during this time.  I lived in a liberal city of New York, and a conservative rural area in Arkansas.   We are a good people.

Many people have called Binghamton, NY, my adopted hometown area, a "burnt out industrial town".  Well, there are worse places.  Places such as Flint, Michigan (where I remember passing huge auto plants, so many of them now closed, deserted, the same as the former EJ (Endicott Johnson) plants here.  Their people out of work, wondering where the American Dream went.

No wonder they are angry.  And lashing out.

Meanwhile, and for some reason my thoughts keep circling back to this, someone tries to beautify this industrial town.  He brought the art of his late grandfather to life, starts a movement called the "hART of BC".  Artists were commissioned.  Dinosaurs were decorated.  Other cities have done this kind of thing.  It wasn't original.

But, what happened next is something that everyone in this city should ponder.

The vandals struck.  They struck again and again.  Measures were taken, and still they struck.

Now, the City of Binghamton has given up fighting the vandals.  The dinosaurs have been moved to our area indoor mall in Johnson City. (the same Johnson City that was almost dissolved last November.)

Sometimes, folks, we deserve what we get.

Circling back to my original point do we deserve to have our country destroyed by the people who take advantage of the rage of the American people?  Is it time for us to suffer the invasion of the Vandals, like the invasion of the vandals of downtown Binghamton?  I think not.  There is still a lot of life left in the American Dream.  We are not ready to go down the path of the Roman Empire.  I think we can still learn from history.  History's lesson #1 is: pay attention/educate yourself/ take responsibility.   Remember who the original Vandals were, who we name our small letter vandals after.  With other tribes, they toppled one of the strongest civilizations ever, because that civilization was rotten to the core.

Read your history.  Don't get it second hand from some mile-a-minute blabbermouth of the media, just because he/she sounds good or is entertaining.  Don't obsess about rock or TV stars, who married whom, who just got pregnant.  Obsess about what is happening in your home town.  Don't let others do it for you.

It isn't too late for us.   Yet.

And with that...may you have a happy and meaningful Fourth of July.

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