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  • Writer's pictureBradley DeRuiter

How Independent Are We?

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

How will you be watch partying when Disney+ releases Hamilton this 4th of July?

As I  prep for Disney+'s brilliant acquisition of the rights to launch Hamilton on the Fourth of July in an era of COVID-19's financial aftermath, I am arming myself with revisiting what I was too young to pay attention to in my high school history class. My apologies to Mr. Horvath. I appreciated that he paid attention to all of his students extracurricular stats, including my own tennis matches, but we were all too bored to track with his history lessons and ineffective senseless busywork of word puzzles that neither taught nor peaked our interest in history. I would have loved to have adopted him as a grandpa, but he sure stunk big time as a history teacher. The only thing I learned from taking his class was how to do the math on calculating which assignments I had to complete so I could keep my GPA afloat while boycotting assignments that I thought were stupid. While taking my shot at enough homework to pass, I peacefully protested other homework assignments to maintain and distinguish my independent thinking from the industry of propaganda instituted and propagated by the public school system.

I humbly admit that I still have to get straight some timelines along with who was who when it comes to redcoats versus bluecoats, who were allies with whom and why, and what are the different branches of government and how do they offer checks and balances for each other? In anticipation of watching Hamilton, and since I have not yet finished reading my Costco bought copy of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, I find myself curious to confirm which of those signatures on the Declaration of Independence later went on to serve as President. The confusing thing that I do have straight is that it was the Republicans that abolished slavery not the Democrats.

I’m finding myself a little discouraged against my own American patriotism as I brush up on history.  Like the self-induced study I did on the royal family while watching season one of The Crown, my favorite Doctor Who being the main draw, I find myself no longer disillusioned by the pomp and utterly appalled by some of the circumstances, both from Mother Britain and Teenagery America. Everyone has a past. Everyone has moral failure somewhere in their family lineage. Even Father Abraham, although still collecting from God on His promise to multiply Abraham with generations of generations of offspring as his inheritance, Father Abraham wimped out in moral ethics and possessing the integrity of an admirable character. Are there any good men or women who can stay morally a straight arrow and hit the targets of governing well, without any political entanglements, compromise or bribe? It occurs to me that doing the right thing is mostly innate, but it’s precisely the moment we hesitate from doing the right thing that things become political and can go morally askew. That is perhaps the difference between governing well versus being a politician. As I scroll through online what I did not turn pages for in my rinky-dink public school spun history books, I’m hugely convinced that whether our perspective is debatably right or debatably wrong, we must write our own histories as proof of circumstantial evidence, distorted justification of existence and influence or forensics for future generations to give birth to their own Lin-Manuel’s masterpieces. If but for anything to create a hunger and thirst for a seeking and a finding of truth amongst media spin, misunderstood sarcasm, what's not written, what is inferred between the lines and what wasn't properly propagated in a curious and creative human mind made for imagination and belief in something bigger than a singular spirit of an individual. A friend said, "The best way to make someone hungry is to eat in front of them." Ironic that one way that I run and play now as an adult, is feasting on the delicacies of researching history and topics that I have an insatiable curiosity for gaining more understanding in. We must dig for a new sort of gold rush, the ever novel notion of truth for freedom's sake rather than fiction for control and power’s sake. 

I lived blocks away from Rodney King in 1992. The Crips and TheBloods united during the rioting in the house right across the street from us. I literally could hear everything the helicopter police were saying to get them to stop their collusion. I find it strangely odd yet justified that  the only sense that I can summon into my own spin on the current reaction to Mr. Floyd’s tragic and unnecessary death is that Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter had something right in ruthlessly fighting evil with a healthy respect for the sanctity of life, real life, not zombie half dead life and certainly only the type of life we each hold true to as self evident since we possess, per ordained by our Creator, rights to as the certain unalienable quality type living kind of real life. Oh yes we sure do need an whole huge army, organized or not, of Freedom Writers. But, however, comma, let’s not burn the books of our former ancient colleagues and let’s not tear down the circumstantial evidence set in the stonework of craftsman depicting statues in their own version of their perspective of their own current world history’s past. If we are going to truly wash our hands and keep them clean shouldn't we stop white washing the pain graffitied on walls what is written in the pain of blood shed and shouted at the riveting quake of our collective earth groaning and moaning for our true nature and our true selves to be revealed. If the truth you know, face, handle and manage has the power to set you free, then what history and what new story will we write? Will it have the power to help others as they seek freedom in their truth to overcome? Will we teach our children to have their own beliefs and ideas or will we insist that they follow ours? Can we not evolve far enough and effectively enough in our own lifetime to live without regret or stain and wash our Covid 19 fearful hands in forgiveness rather than white wash our overly policed black along with our delightfully chocolate brown and right next to our tea leaf green ethnic spectrum of colors and flavors. Will it be my generation that has big enough ovaries to abolish party for policy? Were Abraham Lincoln's words quoting scripture, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." of no lasting effect? Can we lead democracy as a republican nation?

Does the answer perhaps lay in breaking bread or tortillas or watermelons and bagels together? Are our prejudices free enough to have our own Noodle Dream, not necessarily about noodles but maybe or perhaps about Kung Fu, that confirms or directs our path to something different than the patterned career or slanted prejudices influenced or imposed from our parents. If truly a modern American, do we adult by being spoon fed our mass produced convenience foods of TV dinners, corn filler products, along with mac n fake cheese from cows we did not ourselves milk for our blended families breakfast cereal and our homogenized society. Why are hot dogs a typical 4th of July staple? While they are certainly a hodgepodge of meat-ish parts, the founding fathers of the frankfurter certainly were not kosher in their butchery of invention. Our dependence on the weiner's easy accessibility certainly doesn't make us seem very independent on our national birthday holiday.

On a Facebook episode of Jada Pinkett Smith's bravely bold and brilliant Red Table Talk, Will Smith, while empathetically giving fatherly advice, wisely and lovingly encouraged and empowered his Padawan learner with this statement, "Take your medicine and tell your truth."

"Take your medicine and tell your truth." Will Smith

Julie Andrews didn't quite have the lyrics worded how I’m about to paraphrase it. Perhaps Emily with her eloquently Blunt dancing chimney sweep, might have the bravery and the deference to see it the way I’m about to say it regarding the pendulum swinging from injustices to justice. Maybe a Pocahontas is the only ethnic type to appreciate that if we truly reap what we've sown and if we must pay our dues, then perhaps "We must take our 'spoonful of sugar' so that we don’t choke on but can rather help our medicinal peyote go down." my paraphrase.

If we are going to brutally kidnap and enslave a people, shouldn't we pay the consequences for our crime? If we are going protest wrongful control over rightful freedoms or riot and loot, or if we are going to tear down and behead statues indicating our scandalously painful history, ought we not be wiser and more effective to induce change by perhaps fasting sugar and boycott wearing cotton while kicking a tobacco habit? Would that have more of an effectual impact on big corporate corruption with slavery splattered in blood stains marking our national industrial economic past?

While curating the menu for our small socially distanced gathering for Disney +'s stream of Hamilton, I can't help but take into consideration a melting pot of ecumenical smörgåsbord charcuterie board options. I am a sucker for good puns and totally got a good laugh at several Pinterest boards with Hamilton cocktail names. Originally I was going to serve Bangers and Mash , then decided that New England Clam Chowder might be more appropriate for the time period. It occurred to me that throwing in some chicken andouille sausage might morph my chowder into a more inclusive gumbo.

America's freedoms are only as good as our embrace of all of each other's flavors, color spectrums, sounds and Groove Theories.

Are we independent enough to stand together in deference for our differences?

Are we not interdependent on each other's best secret sauces?

I want to be color blind in what I see, while taking in the full spectrum of tastes and sounds that all of my brothers and sisters have to offer and are willing to teach me. May we have arms big enough to embrace all that we have to learn from each other.

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