Happy July 4th!
I’ve used parts of the quotes from MTV’s Mark Rosenthal’s commencement address to Kenyon College from years ago in my teaching and such to the point that it’s gotten repetitive. But, you know, as we set aside today to celebrate our independence as a nation, here’s one of the quotes from that speech that makes me glad I’m an American:
“”Of course, MTV wasn’t exactly the first to come along and challenge the established powers that be. That’s a great American tradition. Harriet Tubman, Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida Mae Tarbell, Woodie Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Jackson Pollack, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Jack Kerouac, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Lenny Bruce, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan, Curt Flood, Curt Cobain–the list is long and varied. Rabble-rousing is an American birthright. Despite a penchant for middle-class, middle-of-the-road homogeneity, America usually comes around to admiring–and rewarding–those who burn their bridges to convention and safety–and light up the sky in the process.”
I’d suggest that all those in the list actually had a list of rabble-rousers that they each drew on as Americans…notably a group of folks that dumped tea into Boston Harbor and the 56 signers of that Declaration that begins with…
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
…and ends with…
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
…well, I’d say our very heritage is laced with that very same spirit.
And that’s what I think about when we celebrate.
And that’s what I think is worthy of celebration.
Ideas matter, folks.
And living in a place where we can say them freely and act on them responsibly is pretty great if you’re asking me.