Safe And Sane – A Reprise

Timing. I suspect many people in the US are well on their way to their Fourth of July long weekend get-away. And here I am, writing a blog post.

Plus, we’re celebrating our Independence when a good many Americans don’t feel so independent. Instead of having representatives vote on some key lifestyle issues, we’ve had a handful of scholarly, appointed-for-life judges make decisions that are redefining the American way of life. The procedure reminds me more of an oligarchy than of a democracy and certainly seems more oppressive than anything King George did those two hundred plus years ago.

With both those factors in mind, I’ve decided a reprise of this Safe and Sane post is in order—with some small revisions.

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It seems odd to me that a holiday which should engender joyous celebration has needed to be tempered by the sound bite “safe and sane,” at least here in SoCal. It seems we’ve had too many children maimed by firecrackers, too many injuries from stray bullets, and too many brush or house fires caused by illegal fireworks.

Safe and sane indeed.

The morning after the big Independence Day celebration, the air is clogged with the residue of fireworks across the LA basin and into Orange County. We’ll breath the thick air until we get an onshore breeze that will blow it all into the next county. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the leftovers of our safe and sane celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. I find fireworks—the legal ones, especially the big shows that are accompanied by patriotic music—fascinating. They’re beautiful but also demanding of respect. Not to be misused or abused.

I’ve sat on the grass at Dodger Stadium or at Angel Stadium and looked up at the sky lit as bright as day while the concussions vibrate in my chest. It’s an awesome sight—far removed from the street rockets and sparklers and the less safe and sane fireworks going off all across the city.

Holidays. Seems we need one during the summer so we have an excuse to shoot fire into the sky, to light up the barbecue in the backyard, and to bring family and friends together.

It all seems so divorced from the cause which it celebrates—a day of independence which was not noted for being sane or safe. Or frivolous, purposeless, or just for show.

Too bad we can’t celebrate the Fourth of July by doing something as radical as the founding fathers did—standing up to tyranny, setting free those enslaved to senseless laws. You know, something that actually has a connection to freedom.

Ah well, we can dream, can’t we. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll enjoy the show—I can see four or five legal fireworks displays from my front porch and then there are all those behind-the-house or in-the-street family affairs. It’s quite a sight.

For those of you in the US, may your celebration be safe and sane on the outside, but radical and freeing on the inside. 🙂

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20)

Celebrating The Birth Of A Nation

The_death_of_general_warren_at_the_battle_of_bunker_hillIn reality I don’t think declaring independence from Britain was a very smart thing for a small group of disorganized colonists to do. Besides, if you look at the conditions under which they lived, things weren’t oppressive. The tax they complained about wasn’t excessive. They retained their status as Englishmen.

And yet, they all but declared war on the motherland. Why would they do that?

Indications point to a unified, principled belief. The colonists held fast to what they believed. They were fueled by their faith in God, refined by the ideas of John Locke, and spurred forward by a group of leaders that valued civic duty more than personal desires.

The result was bold defiance of the most powerful nation in the world at that time.

And here we are these 237 years later, celebrating the result of a risky, self-sacrificial, principled decision. What might the world have been like had the US remained part of the British Empire? We’ll never know.

What is intriguing is the way the US and England have strengthened their bonds as allies these last sixty years. What would the Founding Fathers have thought had they known the course history would take?

But of course, history wouldn’t have unfolded as it did if the Founding Fathers hadn’t acted according to their principles.

They showed amazing grit, boldness, determination. The war lasted until 1783–eight years. And these battles were being fought on American soil–something foreign to most of us apart from Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

How easily we take for granted what those Founding Fathers earned for us. I see the struggle in Syria and the brewing unrest in Egypt, and I think how fortunate I am to live in a nation that settled the big questions of nationhood so long ago.

From our inception we have been a nation that believes in the rule of law though we were founded upon the overthrow of it. It’s an interesting contradiction. The resolution of the two divergent facts lies in the belief that government needs the consent of the governed.

There’s an elevation of the individual behind this American experience–to our detriment and to our glory. It’s a grand thing and it’s an idol. It brings out the best in us and the worst.

We try harder to get ahead and forget to offer a helping hand to those coming after us. We crow at our achievements, pretty much inviting everyone else in the world to bash us in the mouth in order to silence the endless bragging. We work hard, play hard, pray hard–though not all of us do all those things any more.

With fireworks exploding tomorrow, I’ll be reminded of the incredible start our Founding Fathers gave this nation. We were given a unique opportunity, a chance to do something unparalleled.

Things have changed over the years–some for the good, but a lot, in the other direction. And things are on the fast track to change even more. Nevertheless, I know I’ve personally reaped the blessings of living in the good ol’ US of A, as flawed as it is.

Still, I look forward to living where my true citizenship is, from which also I eagerly wait for my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. When He comes to claim His throne, now that will be the start of something really worth celebrating! 😀

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