Today is the day that Americans celebrate their intention for independence from the empire building of Europe. Today is not when the US (not the US at the time) actually gained their independence, just the day that the non-loyalists publicly declared their intentions. The loyalists did not mark this day on their calendars at all.
Anyhoo… since this post actually posts on the date of the holiday, I figured I could do a 20 Questions on July 4th, but I only wanted questions from non-US citizens who are not based in the US. So thanks this week go to a First Nations Canadian from British Columbia - Chris Corrigan, a Nova Scotian Canadian nee Englishman - Tim Merry, a Frenchman who lives in Finland - Patrick Beja, a South African in Jo’burg - Justin Render, a transplant from Montevideo, Uruguay who now lives in NYC - Daniel Puch, a German from Bonn, Germany who now lives in Austin, Texas - Lars Hinrichs, and a Canadian who wants to remain nameless. Now, onto the questions.
1. All around the world people are asking "So what are you doing on Tuesday?"
Writing a post, eating some BBQ, watching some fireworks, and cleaning my office so I can get on the treadmill.
2. This year in Canada we are celebrating 150 years of confederation. But it's complicated and that's a good thing. Google "Unsettle 150", now how can you complicate your celebration of America?
Number 1, by merely realizing that it is incredibly complicated to begin with.
Number 2, this blog post in a small was was trying to get an international view of how people perceive July 4th and to address some of the issues that might arise from that. (it did not work out as well as I had hoped)
Number 3. I have no idea about number 3.
3. Can you sing my (Canadian) national anthem?
Not without the music. I am not great with it, but I can get most of it. Just looking at the lyrics now and the French version is crazy longer than the English.
4. What is the greatest gift the USA has to offer to the world? The one that it is holding back?
I used to think it was that we could move past Caucasionism and chauvinism/misogyny and heterosexism, but I am not sure that is the case at the moment. I think the US has the ability (and I hope it uses this ability) to demonstrate how to course correct when it clearly has started going astray.
5. What is the greatest irony of July 4th for you?
That the Declaration of Independence was signed by people who, in effect represented only about 20 to 25% of the people in the colonies. Because of their actions, the War for American Independence was fought and eventually won (this conflict probably should have been called World War 1 with the number of countries and people involved).
6. What is it in your heart you feel you can truly celebrate on July 4th?
I celebrate what I have been celebrating for the past few years. A celebration of the potential to be so much better, and the hope that we will be.
7. If you could set a national holiday like July 4th, what would it be?
May 9th would be Reunification Day wherein we would celebrate the end of the US Civil War.
8. What was the best July 4th celebration in your life so far?
When I was a kid we took a family vacation to Colorado to visit some extended family. While there, we got to watch fireworks being shot off of mountain.
9. Who from American history best embodies the true spirit of July 4th for you?
Harriet Tubman (listen to this podcast and be in awe)… not just the spirit of the 4th, but the embodiment of America in general.
10. If you could change one thing about July 4th, what would it be?
I would love to retire “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood… ugh… only gets played on July 4th and it is terrible.
11. If you had one July 4th wish for the USA from the July 4th fairy, what would it be? ( it becomes immediately and irreversibly true )
For people to really look inside themselves to try and determine exactly why they are being spiteful.
The next 4 questions take a more personal bent and less July 4th centric feeling.
12. Is there one thing from your 20 questions answer / session that stays with you and which you think of often?
The one throughline of almost all of the 20 Questions interviews that I constantly come back to is just how introspective these conversations are for both the person I am asking the questions and for me. Each one is a bit of a self examination for both parties.
13. Why did you start doing this (you need to really think about it, not just the generic answer), and how long do you see yourself doing it?
I started doing this because as I was writing my typical run of the mill daddy blog in 2006 or so I could not think of a topic I wanted to write about. So I sent out an email asking some friends to just ask me some questions. I settled on 20 because of the game 20 Questions, and I settled on the day Tuesday because that is my wife’s name and it is my favorite day of the week since I found out that I loved her. It went that way for a while. Every Monday I would send an email to some friends and ask for questions, until that started to get stale. So again, to create more interesting content and allow me to become “internet friends” with some people I enjoyed and admired, I used the platform to ask people I find interesting 20 Questions in an interview format, that I do not think is being done anywhere else. Eventually the 20 Questions Tuesday content was the only thing I was generating and it took over my blog, and now here we are. I will continue doing this as long as I find it enjoyable and I can create the content. I have been having issue lately with getting people to contribute questions for my weekly blogs and finding people willing to do these long form interviews. Who knows how long that will last.
14. What's your favorite tech device you've ever owned?
This is an interesting one. I lean towards my first real computer, I think it was a Pentium 2 that I built with best friend Glen down in Alabama. We played many a game on that machine. It is my favorite, because it is my first and started me on a path.
15. If you could change/remove one technology from the world, which one would it be and why?
This is a super interesting question. Technology is not bad on its own. It is the implementation of technologies that make things bad. I think I would go with removing tracking cookies.
Back to the July 4th theme.
16. Would you say that the majority of Americans are patriotic and honour the meaning of the holiday when they celebrate, or do many people not get into the true spirit of the day?
I would say that most Americans honor their own meaning of the day. By that I mean that many people have radically different meanings for what today is. I think it is a great day to celebrate how far we have come as a nation and how we can accomplish more. Others might be simply celebrating that one time that “we kicked England’s ass on our own” as the ultimate underdog story. Still others might be celebrating their ability to marginalize others by wrapping themselves in the flag. The thing is, I think most of the people who actually celebrate the day really do mean it, but they can mean radically different things.
17. How is the way July 5th is currently celebrated (popular traditions, mainstream cultural activity) a reflection of modern US society?
Well, I think this might be a type-o on the questions and that you may have meant the 4th, but I like this questions because it asks about how well the understanding of what it is that the Fourth of July means to us stay with us. So I will answer concerning July 5. Both my wife and I have to get back to work on the 5th, so I think it is an excellent indicator of how much we cherish the day before. The celebration is over and now we have shit to get done. Regardless of how good the celebration makes us feel work still needs to be done because life goes on.
18. Do you feel that in the actual politics of the USA, there are people honoring the 4th of July ideals on the Declaration of Independence? Or there's somewhat politics that have forgot about those ideals?
I do not see many people actually trying to live up to the ethos of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
19. The Declaration of Independency is basically just a cranky, long complaint about the King of England. Why is it, then, that Americans are known as such a very friendly and positive people?
Are we known as “friendly and positive?!?” Maybe positive to the point of arrogance, but I would not say Friendly. The Declaration of Independence could be boiled down to a bunch of rich people grossing.
20. My biggest question (which I know you don't have an answer to) is, how quick can the 25th Amendment be invoked?
A strong criminal case takes time to get the evidence and other aspects in good order. I would say that articles will be on the table in 2018. The problem is that the line of succession is just as appalling as 45. I mean seriously alarming. The better question is, even if they impeach and indict him, will it mean anything?
One thing this post made me realize is that I need more non US-citizen friends abroad
I fear for the future of the US
The current state of things is not good
I feel kind of like I am watching the Weimar Republic fall right now
Had a great conversation with someone who grew up in Norway this evening
He had a strong point that we all need to keep in mind
The US is still a relatively young country and much like youthful people is prone to making mistakes
Went and saw the local fireworks show
It was a pretty good one
Now it is late and I have to go to work tomorrow
I am trying to figure out how to see Spider-Man this weekend
Have a great week everyone