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Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing: The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America!


Happy Birthday America!  Isn’t it odd how even the particular date is actually a bit of a myth.  The really important part of the Declaration was voted on July 2, 1776.  It should come as no surprise I guess, that this is another part of the American Fabric that, when pulled, reveals something a bit more complex than we expect.  In truth, that is one of the things that unites this nation—the enduring desire to simplify into little sound bites or YouTube Clips who we are, who we have been, and who we may be.

It is as simple as the “American Dream”—the house, the car, the kids.  If you look to your right driving from Niagara Falls to Toronto, you will see a billboard for the Canadian Dream—it looks a great deal like the American one. I suppose that’s more a testament to the geographic diversity of homebuilding associations and mortgage brokers and property developers than any particular American ideal.  In the face of the advertisements and the forgotten history it can be easy to dismiss all that has come before as just more examples of a wannabe imperial nation, or a country of ignorant—morally and spiritually bankrupt people. Easier still it would be to look at the state of our politics and come away convinced that we have strayed so far from anything good that it will be impossible to drag our system out of the cesspool and into something greater.  We look at those DC monuments and, in the shadow of the granite, think if only to ourselves—that no monuments shall be built to the people of our time.  That the American Dream is only about those cars and houses and little pink houses—straight from the playbook of John Cougar Mellencamp.

That is a false assumption.  And the fact that it is false is what makes this country special—magical and wondrous.  Still.  Despite the best efforts of talk-radio hosts and  vapid politicians who claim providence with sacred documents that they so obviously have never read, much less understood.  It is not the less than 1% of 1% of 300,000,000 people who serve in congress, or those that try to pass as journalists, or presumed religious leaders that form the real thread of  the fabric of this country today.  

Fortunately, in all the mix that makes up this nation—countless voices, countless hearts, countless ideas—there is always bursting forth new ways of looking a things—new ways of art, or science, of philosophy.  Ours is still a nation that ferments talent and dreams and hope—yes, even hopes.  Even in the face of such an economic downturn—even in the face of a poisoned political season.  Beyond the pages of the New York Times or websites of Fox News, people still carry on—in the best way they know how.  Still they start businesses, or paint pictures, or write essays.  Still they think about the problems that face us and come up with solutions. 

It is in some ways tragic that the faces of success—of thought—of progress—can rarely be found in the media today.  So many channels, so little inspiration.  That kind of thing doesn’t sell.  Politicians that try to think—be mature—examine problems—develop ways to overcome—they are crucified by a media and too many voters that want easy solutions—want to buy into the myths and the one liners about how and who this country is.  But, thankfully, they are not the majority.  Perhaps, in our two-hundred years plus, the country has evolved from sending its best and brightest to lead us in Washington or the fifty state capitals.  Perhaps we have allowed this to happen because, even though they often make for scary television sound-bites, in many ways they don’t matter.  True, they can pass frustrating laws, they can hold on hard to old ways of thinking or belief.  But they will not hold back American progress—no matter how hard they may try.  It is like trying to replace Hoover dam with a Kleenex box. In our age of information and technology and science there is just too much movement forward.  The laws of Einstein and so many others still apply and demand that we move forward.  Perhaps not easily, or as swiftly as some would like, but the trend is forward.  In many ways, I think the radical conservatives and narrow minded people know this—they sense this—and it explains their hatred of all things progressive. A simple desire to cling to a life-raft of long held beliefs and assumptions while the river of the universe rages on past where they cling to a tree on the bank.  For some this is a very scary time in history—in science, in sociology—in nearly every field long held tenets are being explained away like so much myth.   But in their fear—in their hiding—they fail in their duty to be a part of the process—and sit on their hands to complain about the results—without ever having shown a face in the kitchen while the meal was being made—content only to complain about the menu choices weeks, months or years later. 

The words of the founding fathers and the great American leaders show clearly that these challenges were around even at the beginning of this nation. Listen to Jefferson and Lincoln call on Americans to be one… “..with malice toward none.”  Those words are ever truer today—as this country accelerates towards a future that scares many of our fellow citizens to death.  Too frequently without honest leaders in the political arena—without religious leaders able to ask and answer tough questions—the road will continue to be rocky for many Americans.

But on this day of our Nation’s Birth (sort of) let us be reminded that we are all in this together.  That at times of crisis this nation has accomplished amazing things—with all of its people focused on working together—instead of trying so very hard to find fault with the other side of the street, the pew, the map, or the cable news.  Maybe our political leaders today aren’t Jefferson quality, or Lincoln, or even Martin VanBuren.  But maybe that doesn’t even matter anymore—for what have you done, on this day or any other, to make this nation a “more perfect union”—that is a challenge for all of us, not just the politicians we agree with—or the ones we don’t. And in order to move forward, as changes becomes even faster (compare the time for attitudes on Gay Marriage to change compared to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s) we must all work harder to build bridges across to those in our midst who cling so hard to the branches of the false, dead trees of the past that they might miss the wonder and progress of this day and the days to come. 



The American Flag arrives at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton ON,  June 2012
(Photo by: Christopher Blake Carver)

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