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Happy Independence Day! I’ve always had a thing for July 4, a day when celebrating the nation with other Americans—with cookouts, music, big fireworks, and yes—beer—just feels right. No left versus right, pro- or anti-war conflict, just everyone having a good time together, enjoying the old red, white, and blue. Can’t wait to see what fireworks my dad found this go-round, it’s become his “thing” every year, and he never disappoints.

I confess that on any other day than the Fourth or Memorial Day, though it’s a very nice flag that I gladly pledge allegiance to, I’m not a big “flag” guy. Proudly flying your flag at home and on parade is great, of course, but I guess when I see folks out and about with big flag bumper stickers, hats, shirts, and whatnot I just think it’s a little tacky and jingoist. (Adding frequently to the irony, quite often these same folks—when asked—profess to hate the US government with a passion.) I also simply can’t abide Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” or Neil Diamond’s “Coming To America.” Folks, I just can’t. Please make it stop.

But don’t take any of this as meaning that I don’t love this country. From The US Constitution to computers, this nation has produced staggering innovations to the planet, many to the world’s benefit. The period of American prosperity in the last 100 years—thanks to an abundance of natural resources and advantageous position post-World War I & II—has made a pretty sweet lifestyle (by global standards) possible for a majority of its freedom-enjoying citizens like you and me, none of whom had been forced into military service anytime recently. We’ve made great progress on race, gender, and same-sex equality, though sometimes it really doesn’t seem that way lately. There’s a lot to love about this country.

Ten minutes of mainstream media, and I’m back to: what the hell? We just can’t seem to get along, we’re at war with ourselves. An alien from outer space would turn on American television, and within minutes would assume that we are victims of mass delusion and insanity. So excuse me if, this weekend, I declare total independence from the media, trade my MacBook for a Martin. Guitar, that is.

But dealing with these issues is becoming inescapable. We must first tackle the issue of energy dependence, before we can tackle national energy independence. We absolutely have to first learn how to use less of it, and then learn how to meet those needs with clean energy. With gas drilling planned in the Marcellus Shale, we are presently being forced to decide if we want cheaper energy or risk toxically contaminated land and water. Regardless of your opinion on the subject, one thing is crystal clear: we cannot survive without fresh water, millions of gallons of which is utterly ruined (per operation) by these procedures. Add the horror in the Gulf, and you can see this is a global problem that must be solved. And soon.

The unfortunate practice of hydraulic fracturing is explored in this month’s issue, and we were fortunate to get an interview with Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. Thanks to this timely documentary, this hitherto under-the-radar activity is being brought to public consciousness, where it belongs. Be sure to catch a screening soon. (7/17, Onteora High School, Boiceville, 7 PM.)

And then, I’d like to make a suggestion: how about a National Interdependence Day? Because like it or not, we are all way more interdependent than independent. And maybe that’s what I’m missing from the flag lately, the notion of shared sacrifice and connectedness. Its ability to bring us together regardless of political persuasion has been tarnished by its use as a whipping stick on fellow citizens, during the run-up to both wars we’re still inexplicably fighting, and since, courtesy of the Tea Party Nation. I wouldn’t mind reclaiming it for all of us Americans…for both holidays.

Interdependence Day—yeah, I think I like it. Not the greatest title for a Will Smith action flick, but it’s got rhythm. And we’ll have fireworks for it too. Dad never fails.

Cheers, Ross Rice
Editor, Roll Magazine



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