Tag Archives: Independence

John Adams

Independence – Word of the Day

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Eurasian Coot, Big Swamp, Bunbury. Alone again, naturally. This one had set a course for herself, away from the others.

The stories of other nations and communities are always interesting to me, how they evolved and what are some of the key historical points that have become the DNA of the nation, and who are some the characters in nation building.

It is July 4th, the celebration for Americans of their independence from Britain. One of the things that always intrigues me, is the story within the story. Eventual political independence came as a result of independent people. One such person was John Adams (1735 – 1826).

Britannica.com describes Adams and his wife Abigail as fiercely independent. Adams was an early advocate for independence. His father had hoped he’s follow in his shoes as a church minister. Adams trained with that in view, but on graduation from Harvard spent three years teaching at a grammar school. He eventually determined to do law, and set up practice in Boston. It was while in Boston that his independence came to public prominence. Eight British soldiers had fired on a crowd in Boston – the Boston Massacre -and were on trial for murder. John Adams decided to defend them. He believed that they had the right to legal representation (and for a fee no doubt), and his view was that the soldiers had been provoked. While it was an unpopular thing to do it showed that Adams was a principled person, and it also showed that Adams was one who could think and act independently.

In 1765 Adams wrote a dissertation against the Stamp Act, He went on to oppose the Townsend Act (import duty). In 1774 he was elected to the delegation to represent Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress. In 1775 he published his “Novanglus” essays arguing that Britain had no right to legislate for the colony. He attended the Second Continental Congress in 1776, and was nicknamed “The Atlas of independence” surely an irony? He dominated debate and made crucial nominations – George Washington as comander of the Continental Army; and Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. His list of achievements is long, and include a term as ambassador in both France and England, two terms as Vice President, and one term as President. While his political philosophy is much debated and some of his views unpopular, Adams has been hailed as a patriot and revolutionary who spurred a colony to nationhood.

No matter what you think of him, you can’t deny that he was indeed and independent thinker and activist who worked for the nation’s own independence. Perhaps in that light we might say that America’s independence is an outworking of the independent-mindedness of its founders, especially John Adams. I note though, that Adams was not a one-man-band, he ably delegated, deffered, and encouraged others to do their bit, not wanting to hog the limelight, but rather to share it. Independence doesn’t mean solo, or maverick, though it doesn’t exclude those labels those labels are not the principal defining behaviours, it means appropriate dependence and independence in synergy. A bit like co-dependency is not all bad, we all have a positive level of dependence and co-dependece in our lives, if we didn’t we’d have sterile relationships and bland communities and not a lot would get done. We also need a positive level of independence in our lives too, without it we are not an identity, just a name, alone. I like to think I have a bit of John Adams in me, an independent thinker and activist, but also one who can function in and for community. I hope you do to.

many fine new branches
a multitude of blossom
the trunk is solid

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Rebel Without A Gun

via Daily Prompt: Rebel

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James Dean? Che Guevara? Arafat, Mobutu, who?

Mohanda Karamchand Gandhi, the quiet revolutionary, and was living proof that violence isn’t requisite for societal, especially political change.

Trained in law in London from 1888, then he initially served the Indian expatriate community in South Africa for twenty-one years, and it is during this time that he formed his social and political views. He opposed the race laws that affected his people, which brought physical and political retribution against him, but he persevered, and peacefully, influencing people and decisions where he could.

But in 1915 he returned to India. There he immediately threw himself into the fight for independence from Britain. Gandhi used law, legislation, and commincation to take the fight through the people for Indian sovereignty. He harnessed the people and the process. Again he was gaoled, and targeted by the British administration. Yet his response was always peaceful protest. He organised peaceful protests, trade boycots, local product fidelity, and more. He hit the British economically, administratively and politically, a very astute leader. One high point was the famous Salt March in 1930 where Ghandi organised a boycot against the British salt tax, he and thousands who joined him along the way, marched 388 kms from Ahmedabad to Dandi on the coast, it captured the nation and wounded the British image irreparably. The administration loathed Gandhi, and Churchill branded him as seditious and dangerous, a Hindu Mussolini! He was a true rebel, but without a gun.

Indian independence arrived August 15, 1947. It was tainted for Gandhi by the seprate agreement of the British to allow the partition of India to include East and West Pakistan as separate states for Muslims. Gandhi opposed the move. Many died in the process, but civil war did not erupt.

Gandhi believed that love could win over hate. His life is testimony that it can, and it can bring down empires and open the door to new visions. His patience won out in the end.

Sadly he was assasinated on January 30 1948, but his life was clearly not in vain. He has been a model for many others of many cultures and beliefs, and an inspiration for peaceful protest for change (Aung San Suu Kyi and Benazir Bhutto come to mind). But he, I’m sure would be the first to acknowledge that what mattered was that he’d managed to inspire his own people, that’s my kind of rebel, peaceful, loving, grass-roots based.

Two quotes of his that I love are:

“the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

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