Fourth of July reflections: US is just us... all of us

Whatever happens in the world; for better or for worse; for good or for evil; for pride or for shame; any US involvement, or even the suspicion of involvement in foreign affairs, will always point to us… all of us.

It would be foolish to console each other by finding blame for our shortcomings in someone else. Whether written in capital letters or in lower case, the blame belongs to “us.” Not to Bush “the Younger,” even if portrayed as one of the most pathetic leaders this nation has ever had; not to Cheney and his gang of neocons; not to the industrial-military complex, or Rumsfeld’s Pentagon; not to the oil barons and other energy moguls; not to the tweedledum and tweedledee politicians who take turns running government; and most certainly, not to any religious group, no matter how powerful or influential. The blame is all ours… it, unequivocally, belongs to us.

The United States of America symbolically stands for us, ‘us of America ’ if you prefer. If our ideals for democracy, freedom and brotherhood have gone by the wayside; and the flag has become a pharisaic symbol to display in our porches, cars or lapels… and not in our hearts; then, we’d better cast the blame on those who truly deserve it: us.

On this Fourth of July… the day not only commemorating our nation’s independence, but also a day for celebrating both freedom and hope, it might prove worthwhile to examine our civic and moral responsibilities, our obligations to both ourselves and our neighbors. Not just to those in the community where we reside, but to the millions in this global village that we have, of our own accord, decided to influence. After all, don’t we proudly describe our nation as the world’s only superpower? And, doesn’t that power imply a corresponding super-responsibility?

Before we absolve ourselves of any blame, or search for alibis, it might help to ask…

Where were our rage and indignation when a warmongering, secretive White House was performing its long war dance as a prelude to Iraq ’s invasion? Millions of people around the world were protesting in the streets with a clear and loud voice against such impending illegal war… but not us.

Where were our rage and indignation when our inhumane treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other surreptitious places first came to light? Denying it all… or making these episodes crime-lite? When responsibility for actions perpetrated appeared to reside at the top, by virtue of de jure or de facto policymaking, one would have expected a public outcry for retribution, for heads to roll… but not us.

Where were our rage and indignation when it became obvious that the American press did not appear interested in learning and reporting the entire truth? Any type of toning down, self-censure, or moderation, in the often narrow path between truth and lies should have received the scorn of a free people… but not us.

Where were our rage and indignation when our government made a mockery of its responsibilities to the citizenry time and again, casting their lot with the power and wealth that helped put them there? Citizens in a democracy must always take their leaders, elected or selected, to task… but not us.

For our democracy to be alive, to work, the citizens must be engaged… and never allow being intimidated into silencing their dissent. Only those cloaked in tyrannical power will equate sedition and dissent… but there should never be any confusion, none, in knowing where dissent ends and sedition begins.

Being a minority even when surrounded by apathy, is no excuse for capitulation, or subtracts any blame. Any minority that is alive, vocal and has righteousness on its side can and will be heard in a democracy… and thus, help bring change.

America has always been the hoped-for utopia for free people with a heart… but of late we’ve stopped asking questions of our government… of us. If we insist on carrying on with this sheep mentality, and allow the corrosion of our conscience, of our soul, we may turn this land into a dystopia… a nation in self-imposed captivity and certain decline.

Lest we forget, US more than a symbol for a nation… is simply us.