A green cowl for the 4th of July

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I’ve been up in Wisconsin, visiting my family, but have continued the summer of green knits by knitting (yet another) Willow Cowl, this time in green.

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Willow Cowl
Yarn: Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Jade”
Needles: size 5 circular
Time to Knit: about a week

And yes, despite being American, I’m rather deliberately not dressed in patriotic colors today. For this Fourth of July, I recommend spending some time with this incredible work of oratory, delivered by Frederick Douglass just shy of 167 years ago in what is now the city I call home, and noticing how it echoes to the present day: “What to the slave is the 4th of July?”

Now our nation is not just 76 years old, and I’m afraid that for me, this statement from Douglass proves to be true: “Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow.”

The future surely does feel shrouded in gloom; I hope that hope has not completely gone out just yet, though. I like the framing offered in this conversation between Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Greta Thunberg: that hope is something we make when we act, and that with our action, we can make hope contagious.

So much of what Douglass spoke about is just as relevant today, but I’ll take just a small sampling: “But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued.”

Indeed, Frederick. Alas, what seems quite plain to me, like the shared human dignity and worthiness of care of people seeking asylum, or of LGBTQ+ people, is something we are still expected to argue, as if in arguing it, we don’t inherently concede that those things really are in question.

And this: “The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers.”

I have no patience for the veneration of our “founding fathers” or our national ideals by those who are unwilling to honestly face the darker truths of our nation’s history, to own and acknowledge that those ideals only ever originally applied to privileged, landed white men and still primarily do, to own and acknowledge the plunder of black lives that enabled this country to become the wealthy one that it is, to own and acknowledge that we still, in 2019, have not repaid those debts, and it is still the case that many in our country can reasonably ask whether this country, and this holiday, is actually for them.

I am disgusted by the theft of 2.5 million dollars from our National Parks budget to fund Trump’s military-dictatorship style parade, this “celebration” of our nation that is only for those who venerate Trump. Though he may, amongst his nonsensical rambling, occasionally make statements glorifying the founding fathers, we all know who Trump is really interested in glorifying while stabbing the cause of liberty. How could anyone honestly say that we are a country that values liberty while we have children in cages at the border?

May all of my American readers have a thoughtful and reflective Fourth of July. And may we all, no matter what nation we call home, keep doing the work that must be done in our countries, to bring them closer to valuing all people and working together to prevent the worst of what is to come for this planet we share – and remember that while we face these challenges together as fellow Earthlings, like so many other things, it is the poorest, most marginalized people who are likely to suffer most acutely from the ravages of climate change. I’m deeply uncomfortable with patriotism that celebrates ones country as being superior to others…the only sort I can get behind is captured in the song below (if, like me, you know the tune, you can sing the words):

“This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.”

(“A Song of Peace,” Finlandia, Jean Sibelius)

I’ll close by noting that Douglass offered his remarks, and I now make my home, in the ancestral lands of the Haudenosaunee, and right now, I’m with family in the ancestral lands of the Menominee, and our United States of America have much to answer for in our treatment of these people and these lands.

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4 thoughts on “A green cowl for the 4th of July

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