Monday, July 04, 2011

Declaration Disclaimer: How Fast to Change?

The document Americans celebrate today starts with a cautionary note:

“Prudence, indeed,” warns the Declaration of Independence, “will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

This serves well as a preamble to a ringing statement of our nation’s right to free itself from British oppression, but a slight turn of the kaleidoscope can reveal that warning’s meaning for our national life today, both domestically and abroad.

After voting for Change less than three years ago, under pressure of economic and terrorist anxiety, Americans are now experiencing transformation at a rapid rate of “the forms to which they are accustomed” in both governing themselves and intervening in the affairs of other nations.

In Washington, the Tea Party shadow government has Congress and the White House locked in paralysis over its agenda with more to come, a minority as militant as George III’s redcoats and as oppressive.

In the Middle East, we are hip-deep in “abolishing the forms” of other governments, directly or not, with no clear statements of our national interests and timelines.

As we light barbecue grills and fireworks in congratulation of hard-won freedoms, it might be worth a moment’s pause to think about how fast we are burning them up today and why.

They are as easily lost not just with bangs but whimpers.

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