Be the change you want ~ it’s a good day to start

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. Mark Twain

This is for those not feeling patriotic today due to the behavior and hypocrisy of our government toward….well pretty much everyone – those living on this beautiful land before the rest of us immigrated here, people of color, women, etc. A government bend on continuing to exploit Mother Nature. It certainly dampens a celebratory mood to read the news. If this United States experiment is a work in progress, it’s difficult to see the progress.

Look for it. There are good Americans doing good and great things, for other people, for the environment, both here and abroad. We can all be that kind of American in our lives…therein lies the change.

Patriotism is not nationalism. It is a concern for one’s country, for it’s well being. That implies responsibility, not passivity.

Spend the day defining, living, what you want to create in this land. Write it down. Create action steps…helping a neighbor? Calling a friend in need? Donating food, time, money? Becoming a political advocate? Creation and change comes when we define and live what we want, not focus on what we don’t want. Be it small or big, look at how you might be “feeding” the divisiveness, the bigotry, the hatred. Do you embrace someone of a different religion, or skin color, yet speak negatively of someone of a different political party? How is that different?

“Be the change you want” not just a bumper sticker, it’s a profound truth that requires self reflection, that requires looking at our own words, actions, most of all, our thoughts.

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Therein lies the way for our country to represent the values and ideals I believe most of us uphold.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” Barack Obama

(It is not my habit to do 2 posts back to back, but I wrote this after reading on social media many people’s disillusionment with celebrating July 4th. I understand that, and feel it myself, but the negativity expressed, i.e. a parade float exhibiting a coffin symbolizing the death of our constitution, is disturbing. Our individual lives are powerful, how do we choose to use that power?)

Independence as defined by a founding mother!

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation.” Abigail Adams

These words (and many more!) were written by Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams when the Second Continental Congress was formed and its (all male) members debated and deliberated over the writing of the Declaration of Independence. She argued in many letters to her husband that the creation of a new form of government was a chance to make the legal status of women equal to that of men.

The quote above is prefaced by “remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could…..”

Abigail’s influence and advise to her husband during the Continental Congress, as well being both a wife to one President and mother to another, resulted in some historians referring to her as the “Founding Mother” of the United States. But her ideas of freedom and independence were more inclusive than those of the founding fathers.  Not only did she advocate for women’s rights, she also opposed slavery, stating in a letter that most Virginians, as slave owners, did not have such a passion for Liberty “as they claimed they did, since they deprive their fellow Creatures” of freedom.

When a freed young black man came to her home in Philadelphia asking for her help in learning to read and write she helped him enroll in a school.  Her response to a complaining neighbor was:

[he is] “a Freeman as much as any of the young Men and merely because his Face is Black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? … I have not thought it any disgrace to my self to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write.”

She also wanted women to be given equal opportunities for education:

“If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.

“you need not be told how much female education is neglected, nor how fashionable it has been to ridicule female learning.”

painting by Gilbert Stuart

She continued to be John Adam’s closest advisor and confidant through his presidency and in her later years continued her political interests by following the career of her son, John Quincy Adams,  though she did not live to see him become president.

Oh Abigail, you were ahead of your times, but your spirit lived on in the early suffragettes, and lives on in the wave of women who have risen to the occasion to run for political offices locally and nationally in the past few years. Called “Mrs President” (meant to be derogatory) by a journalist at the time for her “meddling” in her husband’s presidency, perhaps in the near future that title will be carried by someone with pride as women gain more representation, a dream of her’s over 200 years ago!

Happy Independence Day for all…….regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality!

A little floral color for your 4th