Well, another Independence Day is upon us come tomorrow, and I know I should say something about it, being that this is about a blog about my British-American life. I want to give you something fresh, but I am coming up flat. To be honest, I am flying by the seat of my pants on this one. The best I can give you is going to be scattershot, but it is going to be sincere. Just follow my train of thought.
To the Britons, I can offer you a bit of hope. The Sprog did a unit on the American Revolution last year. Now, as you know with kids, you may talk to them about things, but they have memories of fruit flies when it comes to details unless it comes to something they care about. Then they will drone on for hours about each Pokémon and will take offense if you don’t remember too. So it’s not like we haven’t discussed the complete story of why the American Revolution happened. It’s just not Pokémon enough to be worth remembering.
So, here I was, Ms. Bachelor’s in American History, Ms. Summa Cum Smartass, waiting for her to come home, so I could undo all the damage that the school inflicted. Upon asking her about her first day, I received a very different response. I was told about a very divided colonial population. She talked about the different ideas about how the colonies should be run between the opposing parties. She also mentioned the vast amount of debt Great Britain had from the French and Indian War (North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War). I was pleased that I was able to clarify events rather than correct. Was it still biased toward our side? Absolutely. It is hard to explain away all those damn taxes. However, at least in the Sprog’s school, the curriculum is more willing to tell more of the messy story that it was and crediting the children with actual intelligence.
It is happening more in our culture too. Biographies about our Founding Fathers are making the New York Times Bestseller Lists, and they are showing just how human they were. I am seeing a country that is aging becoming comfortable enough in its skin to confront and explore the parts of its history that have been mythologized. It is a great thing. It is when we face our true selves, we can show our confidence and strength.
And what is our true self, America? Well, through history, debates are raging between the revisionist vs. the traditionalists, but that is to be expected. No one owns the truth when it comes to history, and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. No one can truly know the whole story about any even, even if you are lucky enough to ride in the TARDIS.
As far as America and our identity, we are still defining it. We live in a catch-all society. Even though it may not look like it right now, all this arguing, debating, and wrangling that we do is actually good. It means our problems are out in the open, and we are fighting tooth-and-nail to solve them. We are not looking for the easy way out, even though we are exhausted, overwhelmed, and scared sometimes. We always have that inner strength to keep going and making it work somehow. And we have the autonomy to do it our way.
That is the independence to be celebrated, not defeating the redcoats. That’s history.
Happy 4th America! No hard feelings, U.K.?