Monday, May 25, 2015
#145 / Memorial #5
Civic holidays are my favorite kind. The Fourth of July, for instance, is directly tied to the Declaration of Independence, and to the American commitment to self-government. I place a pretty high priority on self-government, with my consistent admonition being that “self-government” means that we have to get involved ourselves.
Memorial Day (and that’s today) is also on my list of worthy holidays. At one time called “Decoration Day,” this holiday is dedicated to the memory of all those who have died while serving in the nation’s armed forces. Veterans Day honors all veterans. Memorial Day honors those who gave up their lives for their country, who gave their “last full measure of devotion,” to use the words of Abraham Lincoln.
Now, the following observation is somewhat philosophical, but I want to suggest that authentic, non-heroic, ordinary self‑government also requires us to "give up our lives" in a very real way. Each of us has a “life,” which is “our life,” and that is the life we choose for ourselves; "our" life is what we choose to do with our time, energies, and talents.
To be truly involved in democratic self-government, we must be willing to give up at least part of “our” lives, so that we can spend our time, energies, and talents in the governmental decision making process. That’s what it means to be involved in self-government “ourselves.”
Think about that concept the next time you hear about an important public meeting, or you think to yourself, "something needs to be done" about an important public issue.
And have a great holiday today!
But seize the time while you have it. The next time that Memorial Day falls on a May 25th, the date will be May 25, 2043. That's twenty-eight years from now, and I may not be around to renew my suggestion!