Monday, July 4, 2011

235th

Funny sort of a feeling today.I enjoyed a VERY lazy day - my bride gathered in the small ones and let me enjoy an entire afternoon out back in the hammock enjoying the lovely, sunny quiet, alternately dozing and re-reading Carroll's "Son of the Morning Star".

In the evening, our friends Christine and her two sons came by and we had a very pyrotechnical time blowing shit up, and then walked down to Astor playground to watch the entire neighborhood display.Projectile and explosive fireworks are illegal in Oregon. But not in Washington, so with that deep and abiding respect for the law in all its majesty that forbids rich and poor alike to steal bread and fire off a "Dragon Fountain" in the public street every Oregonian who can drives across the river and loads up the truck with a couple of hundred dollars of overpriced Chinese pyro. The entire city of Portland does it, so there's little chance of being cited unless you REALLY push your luck. But I like to think that up here in North Portland we light up the night sky with a certain villainous panache beyond what the rest of the city achieves.When I was thinking about the coming barrage this afternoon, though, all I could think of was how much like the rest of American life this evening suggested. I don't know of anyone who goes outside after dark in any particular patriotic fervor, or with the intent of honoring the ideals of the nation, whatever they have become. It is, rather, an expression of pure entertainment, a mild diversion, and that facilitated with cheap products imported from sweatshop-labor manufactories overseas.

My children delighted in the display, and I found a certain cynical amusement in my little daughter's rapture in the lovely night-lights constructed for pennies probably within a handful of miles of her birthplace and imported, as was she, all the way to the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia to entertain a people whose primary accomplishment now seems to be the invention of new ways to package financial folderol and make money out of legitimized confidence games.But they did enjoy it, and at this point, perhaps that's enough.

I wish I could append some inspiring quote from our nation's founders, some precious reference to the hazard to which they put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. But I'm afraid I can't. The contrast between the men and women who took that risk, and the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots of our times shrinking in fear and fortifying our nation, already bristling with arms, against the terror of a handful of ragged fanatics in the global hustings while casually eliding the poverty and joblessness of their fellow citizens here in our own republic would be too bitter for me to taste.Let me merely hope that you and yours had a happy and peaceful day, and extend my wishes for a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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