For all my fellow Americans, on this day I wish you a good Independence Day holiday. We tend to celebrate by having cookouts and parties, maybe some of us will dust off their copy of “The Patriot” and give it a good watching. People’s traditions on this day vary somewhat, but for most it’s a relaxed gratitude for the founding of this country.
It’s important, I think, to ask ourselves what the American Independence Day really means. There is of course a high-level, surface meaning to consider. It’s a holiday to commemorate the day the American colonies declared their independence from England. Certainly, that’s the linkage to the exact date when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.
A total of fifty-six men signed their names (and their futures) on the document that we revere this day, attesting in the text of a much deeper meaning. The 4th of July was, and is, the start of a significant and sometimes unwelcome act of sacrifice by men and women striving to protect the right to live free. It’s well stated by the Declaration itself:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”The American Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776
Curiously, July 4th 1776 was a Thorsday! Fittingly, the meat of the Declaration and what is still at the core of the American psyche meshes with Viking ethos. Per Bjørn Bull-Hansen, my go-to guy for Viking philosophy, there are some traits of Vikings that must have stirred the hearts of the Founding Fathers. See here and here.
Never Give Up
Deeply embedded in the souls of free humans is the idea that giving up in the face of adversity is an alien concept. In fact, you surrender your true self when you surrender to anything else. The Founders had been led to the authorship of the Declaration to make it clear that they were not giving up in the face of English tyranny.
Kneel to No King
The Viking mind is focused intently on sovereignty, and on protecting it as a natural right. Given the usurpation of power, the theft of colonial largesse, even the commandeering of colonist’s homes in the name of the Crown, it’s no wonder that the Fathers felt the same.
Certainly, one doesn’t stick their thumb in the eye of the King just to have an adventure and merely make it hard on oneself. But if you do jab that thumb, you’re going to have to take the offensive, you’re going to have to own it. The act of writing and publishing the Declaration was the poke, and the Founders knew it. They signed it, they owned it.
Respect Must Be Earned
The Declaration of Independence is an ode to the fact that respect must be earned, both by England and by the writers of the document. The men who wrote the Declaration were no sneaking villains, and it took great risk, but even greater honor, to publicly demand that the King and his lackeys be aware that no more abuse would be tolerated. There will be respect, they said, and said proudly.
Live So That You Will Be Remembered in a Good Way
The Norse traditions value highly the power of positive legacies. It matters to a Viking how he or she is remembered, and it’s best that they are remembered well. Certainly, this weighed heavily on the minds of the Founders as the Declaration was written, and even more so when they pledged themselves to it. They knew what they were doing was right and worthy. They also enshrined it with great care in the Declaration, so it would be very clearly remembered why things would become unruly going forward. What is sometimes lost on even the American people is that what the Declaration meant and what it started, well, it was not universally embraced by everyone at the time. There were then, as now, a great many people who would have been just fine remaining debased at the feet of the King, if only for a level of foolish security. So, the Founders wrote out why liberty was endangered, why it was important to defend it, and that it would be.
Of course, with the writing of the Declaration, it would seem that loyalty is not what first comes to mind. In fact, to the Crown, the Declaration was naked Treason. Of course, that is what England misunderstood from early on, and is why the Declaration was necessary. The colonies had grown into its own society, adopting new customs and a new pride in itself as it matured. When a series of events led to the abuses heaped upon the colonies, it became clear that the King felt no loyalty to the American people, they were merely a source of wealth to be squeezed. The response was to remove any loyalty to the Crown in kind, and save that for their own clans, as it were. As with respect, loyalty can be lost, and lose it England did. The loyalty first to one’s family, friends, and those whom you respect is a very Viking sentiment.
This quality almost seems a given. What else says courage in the American experience than to tell the powers that be that you want a divorce?
The history of Norsemen is filled with rebels, those who made no bones about whether or not they would blindly follow a king into madness and abuse. And the answer to that question was always “No”. It was almost a cottage industry to rebel against the Kings, as all of them eventually resorted to tyranny of one sort or another and soon found themselves discarded. For the American Founders, the same philosophy was in play, though many, many entreaties to reason were attempted before the Declaration became necessary. That act of rebellion was not arrived at easily, but once it did, rebellion was the norm until liberty was restored. No quarter was given until satisfaction was had.
We may have lost touch with some of the qualities above in the past generations, but they’re re-surging. Some call this change of vision nationalism, and perhaps it is. Really though, it’s more than that – we’re fighting the same fight that our Founding Fathers did. An elite ruling class view us with disdain, and hold different rules for themselves than they do for us. Indeed, they look upon us with scorn and not-always-contained disgust, and call us deplorable if we dare to disagree with them and their goals. Where we trust them, they lie to us. When they say they will act as our representatives and protectors, they harm us and steal from us.
For our part, most of us seek merely to be left alone, but the statists won’t let us. Even when what they want brings them no tangible benefit, they pursue goals that exist only to cement their authority over us. To define the feudal lord, and the serfs. And they’ll extend that authority by fist, club, and gun, by means legal and extra-legal, if we do not bow to them. Even when they are plainly wrong.
And still we suffer the insults, with the hope that they’ll eventually tire of their sport and we’ll move on. But the tyrant is evermore thirsty for power, and that reality is beginning to dawn rapidly on many in these late days. Increasingly I hear it asked: “Will they leave us be? Will we know peace? Or will they go too far?”
Two Hundred and Fifty years ago or thereabouts, the answer began to be whispered, then was shouted on July 4th 1776. I would argue that the freedom-loving and brave spirit of Vikings past made itself known in those days. Will we see the old Norse way come again?