aired July 2, 2011 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: July 4th
Yankee Doodle Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon, with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of July 3rd, 2011.
Yes, we are approaching the 235th birthday of the United States of America, the worst, most corrupt country in the world – except for every other country in the world. Don’t listen to polls that show that country has a better standard of living, that country has better healthcare, that country takes care of its poor, that country has cleaner beaches – all these things may be true in dribs and drabs, but there is still no country greater than the good, not-so-old USA.
When my great grandparents had to get the hell out of Russia, this is where they came. When my grandparents had to get the hell out of Germany, this is where they came. When my parents had to get the hell out of Saint Croix – because they were on vacation and mom got a sunburn and the souvenir shop was out of aloe vera and the hospital there was a shack with an aspirin bottle – this is where they came – and couldn’t wait to come back to.
Are these ideal days for the American people? No, tough times. We are still suffering from a recession George Bush built and Barack Obama can’t tear down. We have crime and drugs and pollution and overcrowding and the Game Show network. We have young people dying and killing in a sandpile called Arabia.
We have cameras at every stoplight, and we have super-computers that know the size and shape of every poop we take before we even eat the food that’s gonna turn into poop.
Worst of all, we have the first – or maybe it’s already the second generation of Americans – that isn’t doing as well as the one before. Even in the darkest jungles of Africa, the son of a chief can tell his father, “Dad, thanks, but I don’t need your shrunken heads. With my new position, I should be getting five, six decapitations a month, and if I make my quota, the wives and I get a ceremonial drum. I know dad, I know. When you were my age you had to castrate a rhinoceros for fuel, but times have changed. And with that new medicine man and his herbal remedies, who knows? I might even outlive you and make it to 40!”
But seriously, so America is in a rough patch. Meanwhile, we have cars that can tell us directions so we don’t get lost. We have ipods that put more music on a chip than a man 100 years ago would have heard in a hundred years. Just a week ago, we passed a law in New York where two people of the same sex can finally marry each other – instead of getting stoned by a mob. And pretty soon in Colorado, it’ll be legal to get stoned in a mob.
Not everything gets better, but before you go all nostalgic for the America of yesteryear, answer me this: Which would you rather have? God forbid you need heart surgery, would you rather have it now, or 1950? It’s a heat wave, and you’re trying to get some sleep in your bedroom. Would you prefer 2011, or 1911? Maybe you work in a factory, or an assembly line. Now…then? Or maybe you came in late and missed your favorite show on TV. Instant gratification you’re your cable box…or 1970? You’re trying to sell your house – today..or last year?
So you see, even in the worst of times, we usually have the best of times. Think of that as we head into – God help us – election season. Out will come all sorts of garbage, back and forth, right and left, all of it boiling down to one side saying, “We’re doing our best and hope to do better,” and the other side saying, “Your best isn’t good enough, and it couldn’t be worse.” As the mud is being flung and the bull is being shoveled, just remember that two-and-a-half centuries ago we belonged to another country. We bowed to a king, and we paid taxes to a government building roads and schools 3000 miles away. Well, we’re doing that now in Iraq, but still…
On this Independence Day, let us honor this republic, this democracy, this place that still takes immigrants – legally or otherwise – and gives them a shot…that isn’t from firing squad.
On this July 4th, as I stand at my barbecue and press my Hebrew Nationals into the Happy Hot Dog Man, I look over one backyard fence, and there’s the O’Malleys, drunk; over the other fence, the Tortorellis, stupid; down the street, the Gonzalezes – cheap bastards, but friendly – and two blocks down, not on this block, thank God, the Roosevelts. All good people of different backgrounds just trying to get by. One nation, under you-know-who, indivisible, with at least an impossible dream of liberty and justice for all.
Oh say can you see… my Ketchup Critter? Because I put it down, and now I can’t find it, dammit.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches.
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