Posted by Jiggy Gaton | Edit Post
Having now spent over a decade of "Fourth of July" days in Nepal instead of in America, it's getting harder for me to remember just what goes on during this holiday back in the motherland. Of course, it's American Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 - but for most Americans (as I recall) it's more about a day off work, beer and barbeques in the backyard with friends and family, and culminating into big bangs from a huge fireworks display.
But as a kid who grew up in the antique footsteps of the American Revolution, it was always just a bit more for me. After all, on the walk to school each day I passed a commemorative sign extolling the fact that "George Washington Slept Here" and I was but just a few dozen kilometers from some of the most famous of revolutionary battlefields: Fort Ticonderoga, White Plains, Trenton, Saratoga, etc.
In fact, the very primary school where I learned to read and write was named after a soldier and one of the lesser known American "founding fathers," Gov. George Clinton. The halls were lined with busts of revolutionary generals and battle scenes along the Hudson River, which was always in view from the village that I grew up in. I also remember the Gadsden flag hanging in my 6th grade home room (coiled rattlesnake labeled Don't Tread On Me) and the Ben Franklin cartoon snake "Join, or Die" was fascinating to me as well, being a lad with lots of captured snakes in aquariums whilst growing up.
But the essence of this environment must have really sunk into my young growing bones, as I grew up despising the Brits on some level (How dare King George for treading on my forefathers) and always hated the idea of being taxed... for anything, including my very first paycheck working on a loading dock after school let out. I grew up believing in what Thomas Paine wrote in the "The Crisis",
"Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth."
That, and growing up in a neighborhood comprised of 50% Black Americans – all descendants of real slaves – instilled within the fiber of my being that tyranny, taxation without representation, and slavery of any sort was a huge no-no. Yet, just as David McCullough says of American life in his seminal work "1776":
"Bribery, favoritism, and corruption in a great variety of forms were rampant not only in politics, but in all levels of society."
I saw little change from that scenario in 1976, in the very spot where those battles against just that were fought, and apparently won.
In other words, I was highly disillusioned from the get-go, and after having spent an entire college semester studying Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States", my disillusionment only got worse.
So I guess it's no surprise that on my first July 4th in Boudha Nepal, the party that I hosted had a cake with not an American flag in frosting, but the Tibetan one, and inscribed with Happy Birthday HHTDL (& America, in small letters).
And on this 4th just past, a decade later, I did have the traditional hotdog and beer - but courtesy of Nina&Hagars with a Nepal Ice, and not Nathans & Coors – and while sitting on my small deck overlooking a small section of Dhobighat, I enjoyed my celebration of independence watching a few large cows grazing in front of a small cold store, where a simple man was squatting - repairing an umbrella - with chickens and mangy hounds at his feet while unshod baboos danced around a ball of string. And it was during this small celebration of Independence Day that I had a revelation, an epiphany of sorts...
No matter what flag we are under and no matter what century of our precious birth, we all seem to have the same struggle: the common struggle of wrestling free from those forces that bind us, in all cases whatsoever, in all ways possible - physically, mentally, economically and spiritually – and it is just these forces of social nature that we must oppose, diligently, or succumb to almost unnoticeably as we move through the remaining days of our lives.
-- END --
Writer's bio for this episode: Herojig is quirky kinda expat, now retired and living happily with Nepali family & dog, and who has high hopes for the liberation of all human beings, under all colors of flag.
Ps. This was the last Kuire Ko Kura published in the Republica.
Who the heck is he?
- Jiggy Gaton
- lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.