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By David Bachelor, PhD
Novel. This Fourth of July will certainly be novel. The primary force behind its novelty is the novel coronavirus aka COVID 19. Measures to contain the spread of this disease are shaping Independence Day celebrations both public and private. For the four counties in Texas specifically named as hot spots, the residents will definitely have to embrace novelty if they are to be both safe and celebratory.
Some folks are choosing to celebrate July 4, 2020 in the only way that doesn’t require social distancing: demonstrating. In anticipation President Trump signed an executive order to protect national monuments. Protests on the Fourth of July are not novel. Since the founding of the country, Independence Day celebrations have acted as lightning rods to draw those citizens with a grievance. In years past, these demonstrations concerned issues with incumbent, or at least living, politicians. What is novel about this year’s protests, the grievances are with past (and dead) politicians.
The inexplicable aspect of the 2020 Independence Day protests is the group of politicians targeted: The Founding Fathers. In other words, the protesters are hostile to the very people who signed the Declaration of Independence and risked their lives to make today’s freedom possible. It was in gratitude for the Founder’s sacrifice that our un-woke predecessors erected statues to them.
Many citizens of this current age believe they have seen through the “hypocrisy” of Washington, Jefferson, and their ilk. These citizens have decided to use their federal holiday to pull down the bronze idols to exploitation. Such “we know better now” thinking is not novel either. One example is God’s message to the church in ancient Rome. These believers failed to recognize what they owed to previous generations. Using the metaphor of a wild olive species grafted onto a domesticated root, the Holy Spirit says, “But don’t think you are better than the Israelites who were pruned to make room for you. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you” (Rom 11:18). Instead of recognizing the heritage they had received from the Jewish patriarchs, the gentile Christians in Rome wanted to believe the New Covenant could exist without continuing to derive nourishment from the Old Covenant.
American troops often spend the Fourth of July holiday overseas defending freedom. For Independence Day 2020, many citizen-soldiers are mobilized in the nation’s capital to protect the statues and memorials that honor the Declaration’s signers. These troops will spend their Independence Day receiving abuse from their fellow countrymen. Now that is a novel way to say, “Thank you for your service.”