Today is Independence Day or July 4, the day many of us take off to celebrate the day we declared our independence from the British. Most of us know the significance of this day that forever changed our history, but we also at the same time forget how much we have changed since those revolutionary times.
Back in 1776 and for nearly a century there-after we were largely an agrarian and rural society. Most people farmed, their livelihoods were connected to the land. Few people traveled long distances, and most would die only a few miles from where they were born. The connections to community and the land that supported us was strong.
While Americans had some of the resources of industrialising Britain, we were largely dependent on our ourselves. We made most of what we needed, our foot print on the modern world was small. People could act even in foolish ways and have a minimal impact on the world. Today technology with all it’s destructive power simply did not exist.
We certainly have farmland and rural areas today. Yet, we now hop in our pickup truck and our able to be transmitted to an urbanised area in minutes. Few people are very free at all to chose their own lives. We are always connected using information technology from the simple telephone to the sophisticated Internet. Yet that’s not community in the old sense.
Even the meaning of declaring war is different today. We could not go to war the way once were able to. Primitive firearms and cannons, while increasingly loud and dangerous in 1776 posed minimal risk to human kind compared to war today. The emotions of yesteryear and the fear of war today is changed by it being almost instantaneous and destructive to all in it’s path.
We will never be able to go back to those times. We have to live in the world of today, and realize that while we are blessed by all this technology it poses problems that simply did not exist years ago. We may celebrate what our founding fathers once did, but we must also be aware that we can never return back to their old world.