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"Pace is all. Rhythm is master. Consistency is your friend."

Friday, July 28, 2006

My Protest Music Soundtrack

We're back from the beach and it was wonderful! Not a long trip, but long enough to clear my head, hang out with my boys (all 3 of them) and just breathe in the fresh (fishy) air. It's amazing what a little bit of salt water, sun and sand will do :)

(Although it's an awful lot of work bringing kids to the beach what with all of the gear involved and the fact that we'll be finding grains of sand in every tiny crevice of their bodies for the next two weeks! I remarked to my husband that I can't wait until the boys are grown and we can go to the beach alone, get up early, take a walk in the sand, then spend the rest of the day reading a book and listening to the tide roll in and out.)

But, as usual, I digress . . . My husband made a CD for me the other day. It's titled "Nancy's Protest Songs!" He put the exclamation point there, not me :)
I love the soundtrack. He has hit the nail right on the head, again, and I just wanted to share it with you because it will give everyone a little insight into my current thoughts and opinions (as if you didn't already know!) If I could send you all a copy, I would. It's just that good!

Nancy's Protest Songs!
1. Here's to the State of Mississippi- Pearl Jam (Probably my favorite song on the CD)
2. Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks
3. When the President Talks to God - Bright Eyes
4. Fight the Power - Public Enemy
5. World Wide Suicide - Pearl Jam
6. Masters of War - Bob Dylan
7. The Bravery of Being Out of Range - Roger Waters
8. Let's Impeach the President - Neil Young
9. The Fletcher Memorial Home - Pink Floyd
10. A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan
11. When the Tigers Broke Free - Pink Floyd
12. What God Wants, Part I - Roger Waters
13. American Idiot - Green Day

If you click the links to each song, you'll see the lyrics.
Poetry - all of them - Strong, powerful poetry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another Quote

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).

I've been into the quote thing lately. Maybe it's because the writing group I'm in sends inspirational quotes all the time. Maybe it's because I've been busy and a little lax in writing my own material as of late. Maybe I just like to know what other people are/were thinking at any given moment in their lives.

As some of you may know, I've been trying to figure some things out lately, trying to find some direction or rather a different direction for my life to continue in. I seem to be on this five to six year cycle where I get tired of what I'm doing and I want to move onto something else (job wise). Maybe that's because all I've ever had in my life is a "job," not a "career."

But there are things my husband and I wish to do - move out of the city, buy a home of our own with a big backyard where the boys can have a swingset - just find some space where there isn't an overcrowding problem and people aren't living on top of you (or in our case below us). And it's difficult to make these things happen when I currently hold a seasonal job and don't collect a paycheck for a few months out of the year.

So I've been thinking. Do I want to go back to school and finish my degree? Maybe. I was never good at school though. Something about having to attend on a regular basis - I hated professors who actually took attendance and penalized those who were absent more than twice. Please! I'm an adult (most of the time), yes? I'm paying to attend college, yes? If I can still do well in a class where I don't have to be there all the time - why should I have to be? But I digress. So I'm thinking about school because I'm thinking about pursuing something that would definitely require a degree - maybe even a Master's eventually. Imagine that.

But I don't know. I would have to work while I go to school, so that puts things a little further off in the distance and as I said, I'm thinking of change NOW. And then there's this writing thing. I'm so much happier when I'm doing it, but how to bring in the $$$$? (Oh I wish money was not an issue in EVERYTHING we do!) I mean, I have a couple of ideas for short stories (how do you sell those?), even a novel, but again - it will take time and a lot of luck. For those of you who know me well, patience is not one of my virtues; when I've made up my mind to do something I want to do it right in this moment.

But maybe that's a lesson I have to learn - patience. If it's what I really want, then I need to take the necessary steps to do it even if it takes some time. But maybe my real fear is that what I think I really want won't be what I want in another five years and then I spent all that money and all that time and now I want to do something else!! Which may be why I liked the Shaw quote this morning. (I bet you were beginning to wonder whether I'd ever get back to that quote, weren't you?) Mistakes aren't really mistakes, are they? We choose to make them, even if by accident, and if we're smart, we learn from our mistakes which makes them very useful over a lifetime.

I don't know. This got really personal. I'm not usually like this. Maybe I'm just tired after waking up at 5:00 a.m. every morning for the past four days and going to bed around 11 p.m. every night. Maybe I just needed to get it all out there so that I can clear my head and think. Sometimes seeing things staring back at you, in black and white, laid all out - the answer comes.

Thanks for listening. I promise lots of political and cultural sarcasm and angst in my next entry. Until then I am off to the beach for the next few days . . . Just enjoying my husband, my children and NOT thinking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Proud to Be an American

July 25, 1946 - The United States detonated an atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in the first underwater test of the device.

What an eventful day . . . We destroyed an oceanic habitat in the Pacific for countless sea creatures and killed who knows how many more and we "successfully" tested the atomic bomb so that we could kill scores upon scores of people. While today, July 25, 2006, we have allowed Israel and Hezbollah to continue to bomb each other, killing hundreds of civilians, without any interference from the U.S. After two weeks, Condi finally showed up, but to do what? I don't think even she knows.

We have inherited a legacy of environmental destruction, mass consumption of everything in sight and the desire to make war to expand our U.S. empire - I just hope I can pass something a little better onto my boys.

What will the "This Date in History" fact be when our children are 30? 40? 50?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Random Thought . . .

Check Out to make your own personal notes + much more!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Peace Now

I was just reading a blog entry from Sempiternal Horizons and I am inspired. There is a movement on the internet right now called the "World Peace Flame," where people are encouraged to post this image as a sign to the world that we are all wishing for and working for peace.

I was inspired by this flame as I hope that you are. Use it as your default image or anywhere on your website to show your commitment to peaceful resolutions.

My wish is that people will not just use this as a symbol, but will be moved to action to put pressure on their governments to aid in resolving current violent conflicts, not only in the middle east, but all over the world. But don't stop there - demand that your government pursue ALL diplomatic options before ever considering military engagement. Enough is enough.

War can never be justified in my mind because those that suffer the greatest losses are civilians, especially children, who have done nothing but live their lives, work at their jobs and pray nightly that they will live another day. War is the instrument of governments who crave more power both political and economic. Are we going to allow children to continue to die for that?

So take whatever action you will ... just take some action. If we don't take it upon ourselves to save these peoples' lives, then who will? And if it's happening in the middle east or Darfur today, why not where you live tomorrow?

Peace to you all . . . and take care of one another.

(Thank you for your inspiration, again, Shani)

Imagine . . . Can You?

Just think about it . . . And then do what you can to make it happen . . . Please

IMAGINE by John Lennon

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Be All That You Can Be - Human Reengineering

I recently read something very disturbing. It was written by Madeleine Bunting for a British magazine called "The Ecologist." Bunting writes about a future 25 years down the road where embryos are screened for genetic abnormalities, where predispositions for "bad" traits like depression, addiction, etc. can be altered and removed from the genetic code, where genes can be added for enhanced intelligence -and all before that little ball of cells has the chance to form an arm or a leg.

Bunting goes onto write about pills that can be taken to improve memory, boost intelligence, surgeries for brain alterations and a life expectancy that grows to 110 years - all with a big assist from science and pharmaceuticals. (I suggest that anyone reading this check out the link below and at least read the first few paragraphs of Bunting's article where she writes about this potential future. It is very well written, engaging and more than anything her scenario is what really drew me into thinking about this particular topic.)

These "advancements" pose a lot of questions - questions that we may have to deal with in our lifetime, if not with our own children, then certainly regarding our grandchildren. What would you do if you had the opportunity to artificially boost your child's intelligence? My gut says, "No Way!" But when I take a step back I have to wonder. I mean, if every other child in the class is getting chemical or surgical enhancements, is it fair to limit my child and essentially guarantee that they will perform at a lower level than their classmates? Especially when I have the means to change it?

And what about those without the means? Isn't this kind of science discriminatory in that those without the money to get such "assistance" will be unable to get the good jobs, get higher pay and therefore be unable to move from poverty into the middle class because their "natural" IQ's will be outdone by those with enhanced IQ's. What about the children of those who can't afford to get the drugs? Is this a predetermination of sorts? A potential way to bring back the caste system?

And let's get really scary for a moment . . . If such tools can be used to "make humans better," then WHO will determine what people get access? Will it be the government? Corporations? I mean, the ethical questions involved are endless.

But as Bunting points out, if society thinks it's OK to have a pill like Viagra to improve our sex lives, why not a pill to enhance our intelligence? Is there a line that can be crossed? What is "natural?" What should be left alone and what is it OK to alter?

Medical technology and research is at a point right now where much of what killed our grandparents and great grandparents is now manageable and non-life threatening - take for example heart disease. Is that wrong to try and preserve human life for as long as possible? Is it wrong to work to make life "better?"

What do you think? What would you do if you could enhance your intelligence? Or know just after conception that your unborn child carries the genetic marker for Alzheimer's Disease and you could have it removed . . . What would you do?


Saturday, July 15, 2006

From the Mouths of Babes . . .

We know how you feel, kid.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Let's All Take a Moment . . .

As I write this the situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate, people continue to die and arrogant men are issuing statements of "open war" and "war on every level," digging their heels further and further into the ground to show no sign of backing down or cease fire. And I am sad.

I'm sad and I'm scared and I wonder what it's like to be an Israeli citizen or a Lebanese citizen in fear for your life. For your childrens' lives. I wonder what it must be like to corral your children and loved ones into a bomb shelter, to listen to the explosions and smell the smoke from the raging fires. I cannot imagine the grief of having spoken to your spouse at breakfast only to learn later that day that they won't be home for dinner because they were "caught in the crossfire;" that their life and subsequent death is now known as "collateral damage."

No matter how hard we wish it were, this issue, these conflicts are not black and white. Great crimes have been committed by both sides, there is blood on the hands of many and feelings of hatred run deep through the centuries. But what I do know is that modern military weaponry has never been so powerful, so deadly and so accessible. The fire power between these warring factions is tremendous and things continue to escalate. There will be more deaths and more injuries. More people will lose their fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters on both sides of this conflict.

Meanwhile, those in power will continue to posture. They will speak of strength and might - they will all make speeches from their safehouses and bunkers stating to the world why their side is right and why they must continue to fight. But I'm not buying it. There is no right and wrong - only death and destruction for the innocent civilians who once again feel powerless to control whether they live or die.

I'm not a religious person. I don't go to church. I think that religion, in particular, has played a major role in perpetuating this conflict and reinforcing the racist views held by governments who wish to control their people. But I do believe in God and the God I believe in is greatly disappointed in us right now because he didn't create us to kill one another with bombs and missiles.

So take a moment, any moment will do, and say a prayer for the people of the Middle East who are scared, who are terrified that tonight may be their last night and who don't know what tomorrow will bring. And while you're at it, ask whatever God you believe in to give those who have the power to stop this craziness the knowledge and will to do so.

And one more thing, kiss your children, your spouse, your partner - whoever it is that you love - good night tonight and thank God that you're safe inside your home where you will wake up tomorrow morning, have a quiet breakfast, check your email and have the chance to go about your day without worrying about your very survival.

Be safe, everyone.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Why are there so few women in leadership, and so many in poverty? We propose the following common sense ways to protect mothers and families:

M Maternity/Paternity Leave - Paid family leave for parents with new children.
O Open Flexible Work - Work that allows for both work and family needs.
T TV We Choose & Other After-School Programs - Programs that are GOOD for kids.
H Healthcare for All Kids - Provide quality, universal healthcare to all children.
E Excellent Childcare - Quality, affordable childcare available to all who need it.
R Realistic & Fair Wages - Living wages for mothers and equal pay for equal work.

"To have a vibrant future we must invest in our children. The best way to ensure children are well cared for is to support their mothers."

This is a great online community. It's not just for moms, but a group which advocates for families . . . There should be more of those, don't you think? They are working to change the political agenda to focus more on the problems faced by and provide more support of families. Afterall, strong families raise positive, creative adults who will eventually be responsible for taking care of all of us when we're old and grey.

I've read an excerpt from their agenda and plan on purchasing the book once I get caught up on the stack I already have waiting for me on the shelf :) They have a lot of important things to say and some great ideas for solutions to real problems faced by real people.

So check out the site ( and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


For those of you who don't know, my husband is a HUGE Pink Floyd fan. (Thank you, Shannon and Chuck.) His love of their music has turned me into a fan as well and it is with great sadness that we all learned today that one of the founding members of Pink Floyd has passed. His time with the band may have seemed short, but his impact was great. He inspired countless musicians, including his bandmates who wrote "Dark Side of the Moon," as an homage to him.

I read a sentiment from one fan that I think is most fitting: "Shine on you crazy diamond."

From the Associated Press:

Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, dies

By Jill Lawless, Associated Press Writer July 11, 2006

LONDON --Syd Barrett, the troubled Pink Floyd co-founder who spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, the band said Tuesday. He was 60.

A spokeswoman for the band said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for years.

The surviving members of Pink Floyd -- David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright -- said they were "very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death."

"Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire," they said in a statement.

Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with Waters, Mason and Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock and drug-laced, multimedia "happenings" made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene. The 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" -- largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar -- was a commercial and critical hit.

But Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 -- five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon" -- to be replaced by Gilmour.

Barrett released two solo albums -- "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett" -- but soon withdrew from the music business altogether. An album of previously unreleased material, "Opel," was issued in 1988.

He reverted to his real name, Roger Barrett, and spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England. Moving into his mother's suburban house, he passed the time painting and tending the garden. His former bandmates made sure Barrett continued to receive royalties from his work with Pink Floyd.

He was a familiar figure to neighbors, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store, but rarely spoke to the fans and journalists who sought him out over the years.

Despite his brief career, Barrett's fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians, from David Bowie -- who covered the Barrett track "See Emily Play" -- to the other members of Pink Floyd, who recorded the album "Wish You Were Here" as a tribute to their troubled bandmate.

It contained the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" -- "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun." The band also dwelt on themes of mental illness on the albums "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall."

The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held

Monday, July 10, 2006


Today, July 10th, "Mr. Wizard" (known to his parents as John Herbert) turns 89. Happy Birthday, Mr. Wizard!

Wasn't he the greatest? He was like Mr. Rogers for pre-teen science geeks. (Remember when we were all raised to address adults as Mr. and Mrs.?) He made science fun and exciting; it was as if he was performing a magic trick, but then when the smoke cleared he'd tell you how he did it! I know it wasn't a big secret, but I did get my idea for my fifth(?) grade science project from him - the old-reliable homemade erupting volcano. An artist I was not (I don't even think I painted the thing!), but it worked!

Then I went to high school and couldn't have cared less about science and that continued until very recently with my new interest in the environment and the fact that my soon-to-be four year old son has been asking a lot of "What's that? How did that happen? How does that work?" questions. I think I may have to buy the six-volume DVD set advertised on Mr. Wizard's website!!!

Mr. Wizard's led quite an interesting life. I looked at his bio and found that he counted cars & planted trees for the National Youth Administration in 1936, he loved to act in plays in high school and college, he graduated from college with a double major in English and General Science, he's a magician, was a manager at Macy's in 1942, a pilot, an actor, a model, a radio writer and adopted two sons in the early fifties. He first sold his idea for "Watch Mr. Wizard" to NBC and the first episode aired in 1951.

By 1955, there were over 5,000 Mr. Wizard science club in the U.S. and Canada and this is all before Nickelodeon!!! He appeared on all the early morning and late-night talk shows throughout the sixties and seventies, was featured in everything from Time and Newsweek to Redbook and began filming what we remember as "Mr. Wizard's World" in Canada in 1983.

Quite a life . . . Thank you, Mr. Wizard for making science FUN!

What was your favorite episode?

Sunday, July 9, 2006


The following comes from a WONDERFUL book I am reading entitled, "A Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature," by David Suzuki. It's amazing (and I'm only 30 pages in!) In it, Suzuki references a list from "All Consuming Passion: Waking Up from the American Dream," a pamphlet put out by the New Road Map Foundation (Seattle). If I were presented with just two or three of these juicy little facts it would be thought provoking. Put them all together and I'm overwhelmed.

Let me know what you think:

Consumer World

  • People today are on average 4 1/2 times richer than their great-grandparents were in 1900.
  • American parents spend 40% less time with their children than they did in 1965.
  • At the very time that family sizes have dropped precipitously in North America, the average house size has almost doubled from 1,100 in 1949 to 2,060 square feet in 1993.
  • 93% of teenage American girls report store-hopping as their favorite activity.
  • In 1987, the number of shopping centres surpassed the number of high schools in the United States.
  • Americans spend and average of 6 hours a week shopping and 40 minutes a week playing with their children.
  • We can choose from 25,000 supermarket items, 200 kinds of cereal and more than 11,000 magazines.
  • Since 1940 Americans alone have used up as large a share of the Earth's mineral resources as all previous generations put together.
  • In the last 200 years, the United States has lost 50% of its wetlands, 90% of its northwestern old-growth forests and 99% of its tallgrass prairies.

Is this what we call progress? If this is where we've been and where we are now, where are we headed? We're not living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but the land of environmental destruction and the home of the consumer.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

Friday, July 7, 2006


I read an article in the Wednesday edition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that truly saddened me. It was a report by Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik and it talked about veterans who come back from armed conflict injured, emotionally scarred, financially strapped and unable to cope with everyday life back in the United States. Some of these veterans, an estimated 100,000 who served in Iraq, the Gulf War and Vietnam, are currently homeless. HOMELESS.

I am ashamed of myself and of this country. How is that we can ask young men and women to protect this country, to risk their lives everyday in foreign lands, to unquestioningly follow the orders of the U.S. government regardless of their personal beliefs and convictions and then allow those who sacrifice so much to come home and sleep on the street? It's deplorable!

I know there are "government programs" out there to assist veterans upon their return - but it's obviously not enough. If even one soldier slips through the cracks it's one too many. Afterall, the military was able to insure that physicals were done, uniforms and weapons issued, transportation arranged and deployment orders followed so that these men and women could fight in their war. Why shouldn't we expect the same diligence when it comes to taking care of our soldiers upon their return?

"In recent years, we've tried to reach out sooner to new veterans who are having problems with post-traumatic stress, depression or substance abuse, after seeing combat," says Peter Dougherty head of the federal government's Homeless Veterans Program. "These are the veterans who most often end up homeless."

"We've tried ..." Don't try. Trying implies not doing. Trying implies falling short and on this issue you cannot just "try." This is an area where I believe there is no room for shortcomings. If the U.S. military can enforce rules of deployment and service, then they can certainly insure that their soldiers are immediately provided with the assistance necessary to adjust and get back on their feet upon a safe return from combat.

There needs to be follow up on each and every soldier who shows signs of struggle, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, uncontrolled aggression, those who are overwhelmed by "civilian life," etc. It is unacceptable to allow those who have given so much to wind up with nothing; to allow those who put themselves in harm's way for their government to then be abandoned by that same institution.

Get angry, people. Don't let these soldiers suffer alone. Call your congressmen. Write to the President. This kind of tragedy cannot continue. And while you're at it, if you really want to support U.S. troops, put pressure on ALL elected officials to bring our men and women home from Iraq - NOW; and make sure that every veteran has something to come home to.


Wednesday, July 5, 2006


So Steven found this Howard Zinn article from a post on Daily Kos. Since it was written by (as he put it) "my boy," he sent the link along. I had already posted my July 4th thoughts, so I have saved it for something to think about today - the day after.

The essay is from Zinn's forthcoming book "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress" to be released this November (and, yes, this in itself was the best news I got all day! I'll be placing it in my shopping cart ASAP for pre-order) and talks about what it means, in his mind, to be a "patriot." The following is what struck the most dramatic chord with me: (I encourage you to read the entire essay - it's not that long - by following the link at the bottom of the post)

"Should Americans welcome the expansion of the nation's power, with the anger this has generated among so many people in the world? Should we welcome the huge growth of the military budget at the expense of health, education, the needs of children, one fifth of whom grow up in poverty? Instead of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights. I suggest that a patriotic American who cares for her or his country might act on behalf of a different vision. Should we not begin to redefine patriotism? We need to expand it beyond that narrow nationalism that has caused so much death and suffering. If national boundaries should not be obstacles to trade-- some call it "globalization"--should they also not be obstacles to compassion and generosity? Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own? In that case, war, which in our time is always an assault on children, would be unacceptable as a solution to the problems of the world. Human ingenuity would have to search for other ways."

Once again Zinn asks the important questions and the answers will guide this country, and the world, for decades to come. I would argue that during no other time in U.S. history has this country been on such a globally devastating, self-destructive, power trip as we are in these modern times. So what are we going to do about it? Will you do the work to change the course of our future?


Tuesday, July 4, 2006


I found this quote today and I really wanted to share it with all of you. It asks a very important question, which I don't have the answer to at the moment, but I'm working on it. My hope is that you'll think about it, too . . .

"What are you doing today to ensure that you are happier six months from now?"
--Madelyn Clark-Robinson taken from Nan Fischer's Get Inspired to Journal Jar @

Thank you, Shani for posting it!


All right. So you all must have expected a post from me on July 4th - this a celebration of America's liberty and justice for all. But rather than giving my personal words of protest against a government I no longer believe in, my words against a war that continues to murder civilians and soldiers alike, my words against the most deceitful Administration ever to lead this country - these men disregard, without apology, the laws and protections provided by the U.S. Constitution because they believe they are above the law; they have brought the U.S. into an everlasting, perpetual war with not a physical enemy, but an ideology; all to control America's citizens with fear that their own lives are in danger unless they cooperate fully with whatever this gang asks of them. A government that has abandoned the majority of its citizens in order to reward corporate interests and their benefactors all in the name of the all mighty dollar while the middle class struggles with 50 hour work weeks, healthcare debt and no federally mandated living wage and the poor struggle to simply survive each day.

Instead, I found something that speaks more eloquently than that. The following is an excerpt from Frederick Douglass's speech entitled The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro. For those of you who don't know, Frederick Douglass was a famous black abolitionist and was asked to speak all over the country in the years leading up to the Civil War. He became an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and worked tirelessly to pass the 13th, 14th & 15th amendments of the Constitution. He not only fought for the equality of African Americans, but lended his support to the women's suffrage movement until his death in 1895.

This speech was given on July 5, 1852 when Douglass was asked to speak to a gathering in Rochester, NY commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While he provided praise and honor to the "Founding Fathers" for their vision and courage in leading the way in creating a great nation, much of the speech was an indictment of America's systematic enslavement of Africans and African Americans. (If you'd like to read the full text of the speech click on the link at the bottom of the post)

The following not only speaks volumes about slavery, his intended subject, but about the direction of and issues facing this country today in 2006:

"I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn . . ."

"Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world . . . I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!"

"We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work."

Do your work, citizens - end this war, remove those who do not properly represent you in November, demand a better life for yourself and your neighbors (no matter where their birth certificates say they were born) and most importantly, treat one another with respect and understanding. We are all in this together.

This is a great nation, but only if its citizens work to make it so. Happy Fourth . . .