Friday, July 04, 2008

Born on the Fourth of July

The Crab Nebula was born to humanity on July 4th in the year 1054 with the observance of a supernova by Chinese astronomers.

It actually happened 6,500 years before that, since the star that exploded was 6500 light years away from the Earth and took that long to get here.

People are still surprised to look up at the sound of a jet aircraft only to find that it isn't there, having moved on to another part of the sky because the sound takes time to travel, usually 4 or 5 miles in the case of a passenger jet, the distance from the jet to the ear of the observer.

It certainly almost never occurs to people who look up at stars to think that the stars have moved on also. Lots of them have exploded and have become clouds of fluorescing gases that we call nebulas. Light is pretty fast, much faster than sound, but it has a speed in space and can't cover distance instantaneously. When we view the Crab Nebula we see it as it was 6500 years ago, and it's fairly close to us. The Andromeda Galaxy is 200 million light years away, the most distant object visible to the nekkid eye, but it's easier to see if you dress up your eyes with binoculars.

So the Crab Nebula seems like it was born on the Fourth of July, but it wasn't...It was born a long time before that and just took that long to get here.

Democracy is like that in some respects. It was around for a long time before it got here in America, but some folks don't know that.

President George W. Bush's statement about the Fourth of July:

On July 4, 1776, we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was born. Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the "land of the free and the home of the brave" so they can begin their American Dream...

Nonsense! My President is an underachiever in the cerebral cortex. Democracy was not born in America. There have been any number of Democracies throughout history, but the oldest one is right here inside the USA, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy...already many hundreds of years older than the USA at the signing of the Declaration of Independence which their chiefs witnessed as it was created.

On this Independence Day, Americans would do well to actually take some time and read the Declaration of Independence, particularly the list of grievances toward the George of that era. Here's a few excerpts that might give you a weird feeling of Deja Vu all over again:

...The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone...

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Democracy is a magnificent form of government. What remains to be seen is whether the American people will be vigilant enough, strong enough, and courageous enough to preserve it in their own country. The Democracy we see with our eyes now, took a long time to get here, but it seems to be fading like the cloud of the Crab Nebula. Unfortunately it won't be nearly as beautiful as it dies.



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