Freedom Friday

Happy Friday citizens! Guess how I started my day:

Good morning
I have dishes…sometimes it’s just more fun to eat my oatmeal out of a pot….don’t judge me
Today I am feeling particularly patriotic. It might be because spring is in the air, and Seattle is abloom.
So nice
It might be because the increased mileage I am running for peak training week has bumped the endorphin content in my blood to dangerous levels. 
These colors DO run…lots and lots o miles
I think that it is because there have been a few news items recently that are making me proud to be an American. Granted, there is also some legislative and judicial tomfoolery occurring that has me extremely worried (I’m looking at YOU McCutcheon vs. FEC  and no limits on aggregate donations to political campaigns from individuals …combined with the Citizens United decision, this worries me quite a bit). However, this post is not about what I personally perceive as problematic in politics. This is a post meant to CELEBRATE the freedom and individuality that exemplify the American Ideal. As Americans we may not be perfect, but we are FIERCELY independent, creative, and unique. That is what makes this country great!
 
I have recently been following the news coverage commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Legislation of 1964. Even though the bill itself was signed in July, a summit took place this week at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Texas. President Obama gave a fantastic speech reflecting upon how far we have come as a nation…without losing sight of the challenges we still face.
 
In keeping with the theme of civil rights, Hillary Clinton gave a FEROCIOUS speech for women’s rights this week in San Jose. This speech, in combination with Obama’s recent executive order on equalpay for women, make me optimistic about the direction our country is heading with respect to gender equality. Not to mention the fact that my home state of Colorado is in the process of enacting a progressive reproductive freedom act
Finally, Derrick Gordon, the shooting guard for UMass Amherst, bravely and publicly came out—becoming the first openly gay division one athlete in the United States. This is a great big step forward in terms of LBGTQ equality. Only five states remain with gay marriage bans that are not being actively challenged. Just two years ago there were NO openly gay athletes. Now supporting gay marriage has become a cultural norm, as demonstrated by the extremely publicdownfall of Mozilla’s Brandon Eich

Let me be the first to admit that there are still a LOT of problems with these good old United States. A few high-profile announcements and speeches don’t magically eliminate bigotry and hatred. We still have a lot of ducks that we need to get into a proverbial row: income inequality, environmental protection, overseas interventionism…the list is long. However, even though we are a work in progress, we are MAKING progress.
 
Freedom, uniqueness, and individuality are as deeply rooted into the American Ideal as apple pie, iPhones, and fireworks on the fourth of July (yes I am aware that many of those things come from China- we’re an inconsistent nation of immigrants). Today I want to celebrate my identity as an American with some awesome Americans who stand up for these qualities so that America really can be the land of the free.
 
 
Let’s all take a moment and give an All-American virtual high five to LBJ, MLK, Malcom X, and Cesar Chavez; Susan B. Anthony, Susan Sontag, and Gloria Steinam; Harvey Milk, Dan Savage, and Tammy Baldwin…the list goes on and on. I celebrate our country because even if our America’s establishment is unjust, there are always AMERICANS ready to fight for everyone’s freedom. I apologize if this post is getting sentimental, but sometimes I’m a sentimental guy.
Let’s hear it readers:
Who are YOUR favorite Americans?
What is inspiring you on this fantastic Friday?

14 thoughts on “Freedom Friday

  1. Great post, Sam! I often feel that expressing feelings of patriotism is frowned upon as reactionary and conservative. This country has lots of problems, but the fact that we can openly talk about them is really a profound right that we should be proud of.

    I have a friend who did a counseling internship for a seminary in Denver. She worked with many, many victims of torture. These people came from the Middle East, Africa, and South America. The one thing they had in common is that none of them believed that they did not have a “right” NOT to be tortured. It was a given that the government could order you imprisoned and tortured. Not that any of these poor people thought it was OK, but the concept of “inalienable rights” did not exist for them. That is really, really a huge difference between the US and too many other countries.

    I have seen many things happen in my lifetime that I NEVER thought I would see—the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fall of communism in the USSR (do you even remember when Russia wasn't Russia?!), Nelson Mandela freed from prison. And now in the US, a biracial president, and the slow but smoking move toward LBGQT equalization and MARRIAGE. (Gasp!!).

    Some of those things did not have a lot to do with being a US citizen, but it is proof that the unthinkable can really and truly happen. I believe that being stoked to be part of the US culture and political environment does not mean you blindly follow the leader and wave flags and spout rhetoric that swallows common sense. I think it means that there is always hope that you can witness the increments of change and progress, and talk openly about the pitfalls. Thanks for the intelligent post and links. I love embracing these exciting times.

    But oatmeal from the pan. I am judging you.

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  2. I'm particularly proud of the GI Bill. I've told you guys before that my Dad entered MIT in 1946 and most of his classmates were WWII vets who would have never gone to college without the GI BIll. It fundamentally changed the nature of higher education and class structure. I also just read on Wikipedia that the first draft of its language was written on the proverbial cocktail napkin by a Republican named Harry Colmery. Take that Tea Party!

    Like

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