Here where I dwell in Memphis, Tennessee there will be a few things consistently done to celebrate Fourth of July. There will cookouts, which can be family or friend gatherings; setting off of fireworks and some will be going to Pickwick or Sardis to hang out at the lake, and water ski or fish. What any of these things have to do with the fourth of July I have never figured out. But surely enough half of your elderly relatives will wear shirts or pins that have the American flag on them like getting together over a picnic buffet is really celebrating the Declaration of Independence. Now, don’t get me wrong I shore do love me some potato salad, Pork Barbecue, slaw with mayonnaise, deviled eggs, homemade ice cream, blackberry cobblers, chocolate meringue pie, and fried whatever you can fry (but typically chicken) along with the best of them. But none of this reminds our children of what the fourth of July is really about.
I am told by the old timers, that there used to be huge parades downtown on Beale Street in Memphis where there were floats, and the veterans came out and waved flags, where school bands used to play, and children ran around with sparklers…but those days are behind us in the south. You will find smaller versions of these in “neighborhood associations” or “counties” where many will drive to observe but not participate in the small parade of a county that they cannot afford to live in; or would never choose to live in for personal reasons. But what, if anything, does this have to do with the Declaration of Independence?
You do all realize that the fourth of July is not the day we “won the war” or “got our independence” but is the day “some of the founders of our country” declared war? So why do we celebrate it? I think it is because, deep within each of us we are proud that we as a nation stood up for our rights, yes we were greatly outnumbered, and really not trained to fight. But, after awhile we got tired of being doormats and being told what to do by someone that did not seem to have our interests at heart (England and the monarchy) and we said…”NO MORE”! When the common people, the farmers were picking up pitchforks and saying "no more", the aristocrats finally had justification to say “no more” and so they eloquently transcribed and alliterated for the rest of us what they imagined we were feeling since the majority of Americans at the time could not read or write.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — 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.” The Declaration of Independence.
I thought I might remind some of us what this weekend is really about. Reading this document I realize that our own government, and political leaders need to read it and re-read it, and we as citizens should be reminded that deep in our bones, seeped in our marrow is a DNA that says…”We have rights, and if you violate these we will dissent”.
Did you know that in the year 2007, the Federal Government and military finally legally recognized our spiritual path as an equal and valid religion? That they finally allowed us (Wiccans, Pagans, Witch's, etc) to have our military buried with our various symbols? That was four years ago, and now we find we are entangled fighting for the rights of people in prison to be able to worship just as the other faiths. On Jon Stuart not too long ago, David Barton a history revisionist openly stated that “other strange minority faiths like Wicca” should not be protected under the first amendment. He feels that only the Judea-Christian faiths are what the founders had in mind. What? What do you mean? Yeah, he said that…and of course Jon Stuart made him sound foolish, and yet he has not invited any of our political speakers like Starhawk, or Jason Pitzl-Waters, or even Selena Fox on his show to show the minority view.
Would you like to do something small to help independence today? Would you like to really declare yourself independent today from the government that is now “doing to us almost all the things that the Monarchy of England was doing to the original Americans?” Try this, start small. Copy and paste this link and ask John Stuart to let us be represented…http://www.facebook.com/pages/100000-to-get-Jason-Pitzl-Waters-on-the-Daily-Show/129104200500171 (I hate the concept of people making laws for us when we aren’t even represented don’t you?)
Or support Patrick McCollun, there are many sights that are collecting for his legal fund join one and donate! Did you know that he went to court and was met with this…”In January 2010, an amicus brief was filed by a group called the Wallbuilders, which asked the court to say that McCollum's suit has no merit at all, because the First Amendment applies only to monotheistic religions like Christianity, so a suit filed by Pagans should have no standing.” The courts listened to the Wallbuilders. He has appealed, and now we have to wait and see what, if anything, will occur. If you are Pagan you should be scared, and worried if this trend continues no matter what is on the books; we are being told by our own government that because we are not Christian…we do not matter. If you are of any other minority faith, you too should be worried and scared because this can happen to you also!
Practice your faith, take the steps more than lighting incense or praying to deity…ACT on it, please walk your talk! If we do not act, very quickly those little rights we acquired in 2007 will be swiftly taken away.
Eat fried chicken, enjoy a beer, ride water skis on the lake (not while drinking of course) get a tan, drink martinis, hug your Mamaw, shoot fireworks and hope the children don't burn down your house…but remember to assert your independence, and celebrate the spirit of America. Make your forefathers proud!
Thank you for the gift of your time,
Rev. Sonya Miller