A foggy, misty, sunny, breezy day by the sea. The snow peas have come and gone, and the first crop of lettuce now has just a bite of bitterness. The cauliflower have been wrapped in their leaves and the early potatoes are dying back. Out in the larger world the St. John’s Wort is in full bloom, suggesting we are at mid-summer. Last Monday the Thunder Beings came for the first time this year, a brief visit that was none the less greeted enthusiastically.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S.. We generally find the day challenging, although given the chance we often join some of the less patriotic activities. Truth is, we are all to aware of the reality behind the myth of American exceptionalism and the disconnect between the holiday and history. This year the disconnect is in plain and painful view, so our sole event was diner on the patio at my mother-in-law’s, a feast worthy of a fine summer evening.
Friday evening I joined a good sized group of colleagues from across the country for an online social hour. There was a lot of early celebration and a general sense of anticipation for the holiday to come. Someone asked me what I was thinking about these days and I replied that I find the holiday immensely problematic. Asked why, I explained that the colonies had revolted at least as much to further their desire to acquire more Native territory as to shed the King’s taxes. (The Crown had imposed a freeze on westward expansion.)
Although Independence Day marks the beginning of essentially unfettered genocide, I figured there was no reason for me to say more about the subsequent history of westward expansion and Manifest Destiny as surely these well educated folks knew that history well. I also did not mention the standoff between land protectors and police and National Guard troops that was occurring on the road to the president’s hate filled event at Mount Rushmore. I guess saying something more might have been a good idea, just to put the conversation in more context. Anyway, the Black Hills are sacred to my father’s side of the family, and to the Indigenous people who live there, and my heart and thoughts were with the land protectors.
After a couple of participants laughingly spoke to not having learned the non-tax related reasons for the Independence Declaration, the group moved along to other things. Sadly, the opportunity to talk about the challenges faced by the large part of the country’s population that is less than comfortable with Independence Day was missed, although someone did note that as a nation we do not do well with interdependence. When, at the end of the hour, everyone wanted to sing “America the Beautiful”, and did, I was more than a bit stunned.
The thing is: these folks are part of a professional organization with a long history of theoretically championing diversity while systematically excluding or marginalizing systems impacted people. In the end, my experience of that social hour was a lot like that of many other events sponsored by the organization. These folks just don’t seem to care to get it.