|A novel beginning?|
I’ve always had mixed feelings about American Independence Day. I mean, I get it – I understand the historical and cultural significance, as it is commonly understood. And let’s face it, who the heck wants to be disproportionately taxed and ruled by a foreign power from overseas?
I also know ‘stupid stuff’. That John Hancock’s signature on the declaration was so large that his name became a byword for a signature. Also that the Declaration was written with ink made from pokeweed.
But a deep dive into any historical period or event will likely show us the interconnectedness of cultures, nations and factions, alongside the actions of individuals. In the case of the American Revolutionary War, it was something of a global affair.
When I spent a little time over in the US, the two July 4ths I experienced were a combination of:
– Inebriated people telling me how, “We sure kicked your asses.”
– Receiving consolatory pats on the back and reminders that, “We’re all friends now.”
– Pageantry, flag waving and celebration.
– Reflection upon what it means to be truly independent. (Hey, I never was the party type.)
– “Hey Limey, how’s it feel to come second best?” (Actually, it felt pretty good – pass the tacos.)
The UK is not dissimilar to the US in many respects. We define ourselves by those times when we’ve been a proud nation standing up for what we believe in. And we’re a little more reticent about those times when we’ve been less than honourable. A lot like individual people, you could say.
In our recent Jubilee public events there were critics and naysayers (do people naysay any more?) alongside those who just wanted to feel good about being British and to wave the flag without accusations of jingoism. We can neither deny nor erase history. For good or ill, everything before us has led to here. We are the inheritors of the past. Or at least, the past as we understand it.
With all – and none – of that in mind, I wish my American cousins a wonderful Independence Day and I thank them for their support, encouragement and inspiration in my writing. At the very least, I owe them a novel!