Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day

Well, looks like my beautiful and insightful fiance has the art bug. But hey, I'm excited. It's the first time I've ever been the subject of fan art!

I've decided that I need to be more observant to the world and people around me. I'm missing out on all kinds of story ideas, and even if I did find one, I don't know how to translate it onto the page. It's a learned skill and I'm not sure who to go to. So, wish me luck.


Friday was Independence Day. America is 238 years old. Still young, in the grand scheme of things. The family drove 5.5 hours to come visit me, so we decided to hit the town!

First stop, a section of the Katy Trail that crosses the Missouri River.

The parking lot.

A winding path through some farmland. Cottonwood falling like snow.
Almost there.
View of the river from one of the turnouts.
Water was really brown, but it doesn't look so bad in this picture.
St. Louis is just a few hundred miles straight ahead.

The whole fence is thick with 'em! 
Looking back from the other side.
Looking ahead towards town.
After our short walk got the blood pumping, we drove into the downtown and lost ourselves in the crowds. There were people and vendors everywhere.
No idea what street this was on.
Or this one.
An amazing glass worker.
Sand sculptor.
Sculpted sand.
Missouri Club sandwich, courtesy of Madison's Cafe.
And then I remembered it's an election year.
24k gold plated Henry rifle being given December.
Of course I entered!

Elton John tribute concert in front of the capitol building. 

Me with Dad and brother.
Bird show featuring the bald eagle.
Other guests included:
American and European Barn Owls
Hooded Vulture
Harris's Hawk.
As it started to get dark, my brother and I noticed some classic cars parked nearby.

Gorgeous Cadillac! 

1940s Buick.

Waiting for the 'splosions
I have to say, it was a lot of fun. These pictures are only a glimpse of what was happening. One thing I liked the most was the fact that the police presence wasn't overbearing. No SWAT teams. No K-9 units. Just regular cops. That's all that was needed.

Mass migration home.
But, throughout the day, my mind kept churning over the question of independence. 

In 1775, when the Revolutionary War began, most colonists were pro-British. Yet, they decided to fight anyway because they were convinced that their grievances would not be met peacefully. They wanted better treatment, but enjoyed the protection of the army and access to the world's markets. It was only after King George rejected the Olive Branch Petition that independence was seen as a viable option. Just a few months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Washington and his men underwent the crucible at Valley Forge, a time when the American cause was at its lowest point.

Everybody knows Benjamin Franklin's famous words when he left Independence Hall after the Republic was officially established in 1787. "A republic, madam, if you can keep it." Most people don't know that he also said, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom." He plainly stated that the corruption of the common people is what led to the downfall of every society with a representative government.

The last fifteen years has made it clearer than ever before that the Constitution is useless if you don't have people in power who abide by its principles. And how do they get that power? The people who vote for them. In a fit of hysteria, we gave up so many essential liberties with the Patriot Act and now we have the NDAA. The precedents that have been set guarantee that our government can do whatever it wants.

Thomas Jefferson once said to guard with vigilance the jewel of liberty and watch with suspicion all who approach it. I used to think that he was talking about America itself, or a set of laws limiting government.

But then I realized something. We the people. That's the only way our country was founded, and that's the only way our laws have any power. I believe Jefferson was actually talking about the people who embody the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Others might be willing to circumvent the laws to get free handouts or something else at their countrymen's expense. But there are still those who don't live that way.

Sadly, our history has many dark chapters. Slavery. The Civil War. The Indian Wars. Segregation. Today, we're deeply divided to the point where we don't see the other side as our fellow citizens. Political rhetoric has been heating up to levels that were unimaginable before the Newtown shooting. Then, we had the Bundy Ranch episode and now illegal immigration has raised its ugly head again with a grim twist of epidemic. 

Who knows where we'll be next July 4.

The Bible says that those who seek strength in the arms of men will be disappointed. One reason why Christians place their ultimate allegiance in God and no one or no thing else. He never changes. He doesn't alter His governance of the universe based on what the majority thinks is ok. The American republic was founded upon very sound principles, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

But it never has been nor ever will be perfect. It's still a nation of men. No matter how much we might go back to the roots, inevitably, we will be disappointed. The Founders were very wise to separate church and state, but the ultimate authority from which they enumerated the inalienable rights is the same authority by which countless nations have been judged for abusing their freedom.

Just something to think about.

On a different note, I watched a documentary about Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's first prime minister. In 1960, he was betrayed and murdered, only to be replaced with Mobutu Sesse Seko, a man that destroyed any chance Cogo had of becoming a regional powerhouse.

Lumumba had a vision. He was a great orator and political writer. During the show, I managed to get a snapshot of something interesting.

Patrice Lumumba's typewriter.
 Not sure what kind.

Power to the pen and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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