The long Fourth of July weekend is getting underway here in the U.S. as Americans head for beaches, barbeques, parades and fireworks to celebrate Independence Day.

Agitator readers North of the border will mark Canada Day tomorrow and in two weeks our French readers will celebrate Bastille Day.

Regardless of where we live it seems to me that this year we all should be devoting some quiet, thoughtful time to thinking about the increasingly complex, interwoven world we now find ourselves in. A seemingly precarious world that finds the clear majority of folks feeling massively insecure.

I remind myself that the Independence Day I’ll mark on the 4th of July is a celebration of revolution and disruption from the status quo. I’m sure that back then most folks were also feeling massively insecure and frightened.

But then was then. Now is now. Once again North America is in an ugly, uncertain turmoil. And we’re not alone. The same feeling of precarious existence is weighing on the UK, in Western Europe, across Asia, the Middle East, and in most of South America and Africa.

Maybe this pandemic of insecurity, anger and rising hatred playing out within societies is because of the instant reality show of tribe against tribe –haves vs. have nots, rich vs. poor, liberals vs. conservatives, right vs. left –plays incessantly on the cable tv in our homes or on the smart phones in our pockets.

I really don’t know exactly why we find ourselves in this emotional pit. What I do know is that too many of us seem to have forgotten this fundamental truth enunciated by Louis Brandeis, the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice:

“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

And so, I ask myself, do I have the courage in these trying times to do my small part to protect and advance freedom, liberty — and happiness.

Frankly, I think I’ll have to change some of my ways and mindsets and change. Of course, even a change in individual mindset takes some courage.  And so, this weekend I’m asking myself …

…Will I have the courage to walk in the shoes of those I oppose and understand their fears and anger? Hopefully, I will stop mocking them and spend more time talking to and understanding them.

…Will I have the courage to hold my antagonistic tongue (and keyboard),  knee-jerk labelling and calling those whose ideas I oppose ‘racist’ or ‘misogynist’ or worse? Name calling produces disconnection and condescension and both sides on any issue fail to hear and understand where the other is coming from.

…Will I have the courage to warn my own progressive tribe that while I’ll never abandon the ideals and values we share, our righteous, we-know-best rhetoric is contributing to the antagonism poisoning our democracy?

Frankly, I’m frightened. Partly because I don’t fully don’t understand my own discomfort with the world around me. And partly because I fear some of our rhetoric, our condescension toward opponents and the attack and counter attack nature of our tribe’s strategy may actually be making things worse.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Through violence you may murder the hater but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.

“So it goes.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to

a night already devoid of stars.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Have a good weekend. Tom and I will see you after the 4th of July.






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