Thoughts on this Fourth Of July

Greetings and Salutations;
As the midnight hour passed this morning,  and the 4th of July celebration began,  it struck me that there was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance in this year’s celebration.   Some aspects remain the same…There are parades (Gatlinburg holds their parade at midnight,  so can claim to be the first parade of the day).   There is flag waving,   and a celebration of “American Values”.  There are cook-outs,  and fireworks.
Yet, when I look at the holiday,  it feels more hollow than usual this year.   I look at the path that America was put on by the election of the SCROTUS in November.  I look at the unbridled hate expressed by so many for those who are different from them.   I look at the physical violence that is on the rise.   I look at the way America’s reputation in the world has been swept away, and replaced with one of a ship of fools,  captained by a thin-skinned,  vindictive madman with the emotional maturity of a five year old.   It brings me to weep.
The current administration  has appointed heads of departments whose ONE job is to dismantle and destroy those departments.   DeVoss,  the head of the Department of Education,  is a proponent and big investor in Charter schools.   These private institutions  make a ton of money for their investors,  and,  as studies have shown  do a rather worse job than the public school system at educating our children. (http://www.data-first.org/questions/how-do-charter-schools-compare-to-regular-public-schools-in-student-performance/)   One wonders if by simply improving the funding for public schools, and providing more support for the poorly performing schools,  the ones that drag down the averages could not be brought up to provide a good education.    One other issue I have with Charter Schools and the reports claiming they do so much better  a job is that Charter Schools cherry pick their students.   They,  unlike the Public School system  do NOT have to take all comers.  They can skim off the best of the best…which will, naturally,  pump up their scores.
The EPA is under attack too.   The administration is writing Executive Orders to roll back Clean Water and Air regulations.  The EPA’s attempts to monitor and regulate industry, to keep America from turning into a stinking,  industrial wasteland are being killed by the head of the Department.
Speaking of industrial wastelands,   the administration is pushing to cut back the size of various national monuments, parks and sacred sites.  Why?  because there may be valuable minerals or oil under them and Industry,  like the horde of locusts it is,  wants to sweep through and rape the land for a little profit.   These places are the crown jewels of America,  and a huge tourist draw for people around the world.  There appears to be a move afoot to allow loggers into the Sequoia National Forest…which will mean that we will see toothpicks made from majestic trees that have been growing longer than America has been in existence.
The tragedy goes on and on, alas.   To top it off,  the Republicans continue to show contempt for the vast majority of citizens.   Craig Christie,  Governor of New Jersey for example,  has offended many with this closing many state beaches and facilities to public use,  due to a budget conflict.   However,  as these pictures demonstrate,  “the Public” does not include the Governor and his family
All that having been said (and with these, I have just skimmed the top of the cess pool),  America does retain much of its greatness,  and SHOULD be celebrated.   Most Americans are still polite,  friendly folks who will make room for a stranger, and treat them well.   For example,  here is a picture from  a New York Subway…The photographer who took it, Jackie Summers,  pointed out that he, a Taoist,  had moved so a Hassidic couple could sit together,  and,  that couple had scooted over to make room for a Muslim woman to nurse her baby.   That is what America is all about…accepting diversity, and making room for it.   We are not the hateful,  angry,  reactionaries who are causing the violence and hate.
Do you want to really Celebrate the Fourth of July as an embodiment of what is best about America?   Take a moment to do a kindness to a stranger.   Rescue a companion animal that is in danger of dying either in a shelter or on the street.   When you get lunch at a restaurant,  see if they provide contributed meals to the needy and homeless.  If so…contribute the cost of your lunch towards that fund.   If you see someone who is sad and feeling lonely,  invite them to the cookout.   If you have a friend who you have not seen in  a while…touch base with them…invite THEM to the cookout!   Simply take a moment to do something kind  without expecting thanks or a reward. Walk away from a political argument online.    It will honor you and America.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
 
(inscribed on The Statue of Liberty)
God Help America
Bee Man Dave

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