Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Happy Independence Day

It’s July 4th, 2013. And yes, it would make much more sense to list the date in order of specificity: 4 July 2013. But we whipped the Redcoats so that we could drive on whichever side of the road we liked, measure things in base 12 instead of base 10, and write our dates like we spell Aluminum (which is to say: nonsensically).

Happy 4th, everyone.

In the U.S., our thoughts go back to beginnings, but the day is long enough to think about more than powdered wigs and firecrackers. Yesterday, I was reading about the ouster of a government in Egypt, and Amber and I talked about the protests erupting all over the world. It occurs to me that these protests, however they differ in details, share something with my country’s revolutionary roots.

Europe must’ve seen what happened here over two hundred years ago as a bunch of rabble rousers asking for more than they ought to expect from their government and themselves. Nothing good could come of such protests. Perhaps, if you view these global outbursts in a negative light but you value what came of our own revolution, there’s room to soften your heart and root for a people who demand a better life. I know I’m rooting for them. Not just in Turkey, Iran, Brazil, and Egypt. But also in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, and everywhere that great swaths of people demand more freedoms. There’s also room to root for people here in the U.S. who are just now earning liberties that the rest of us take for granted. Many have yet to earn them.

The other place my mind wanders on this Fourth of July is that it’s the one rare day that we list in British order. We don’t call it “Happy July Fourth.” And there isn’t another day that we call “The Sixth of September” or some-such. We still can’t break completely free of those damn Brits. At least . . . I can’t. For the last week, I’ve been ostensibly on vacation, which has meant editing and revising DUST for my UK editor and publisher. They rule me from across the pond! And how can an island dare hope to govern a continent—

Damn. Another email from Jack Fogg. I’ve got to get back to work. Happy July 4th, everyone!

11 replies to “Happy Independence Day”

We beat the Redcoats so that we can drive on the RIGHT side of the road.

Happy Independence Day, fellow American!

I should add here that the events in Egypt especially deserve our attention. A democratically elected official was ousted by a military coup. Is this a step forward or backward? And why does it seem so difficult for people to band together in mutually beneficial peace, work hard to improve their own lives, and thereby improve their environment? I think the challenge of acquiring power and avoiding corruption is at the heart of it all. And we are all susceptible.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when you and Amber have these kinds of discussions. My brother and my mother (both WAY smarter than I am) discuss world politics, and I like to just listen in. I’ve been paying attention to the happenings in Egypt lately; its scary and sad…and I agree with you…forward or backward? I guess only time will tell.

On another, happier note…happy July Fourth! (yeah, that doesn’t sound right…)

The problem in Egypt and other countries is not that there is a lack of democracy but a lack of the idea of constitutional thought- in other words, no one sincerely believes in the ideals of limited government (where a government is forced not to do this and this) and bound by a constitution universally respected by society. It took the English hundreds of years to develop this idea and for the US to expand and cement it. The American Revolution was one part new ideals (having a republic, no nobility) and one part maintaining old customs of liberty and freedom (English Bill of Rights 1689, Magna Carta) that England was tossing out. We believe in limited government because our culture is almost universally behind it in most matters.

Constitutionalism is a hard concept for those who have never experienced it as it basically means that almost everyone in your society is agreeing to keep those in power honest and true to the rules set down and at the same time those in power are agreeing to abide by those same rules. Americans and other western democracies have this drummed into our brains from day one. Other cultures never learn this ideal.

Elections and democracy are a punchline for Morsi and other types since the moment they get into office, they will immediately forget about whatever charter or constitution they owe allegiance to and will manipulate their powers for their own ideological benefit. The Egyptian military is not the good guys per se, but if a US President was trying to turn us into a Christian Iran that persecuted religious minorities, tortured opposition members at political party headquarters and made the Bible have the same weight in the courtroom as the Constitution- and the Joint Chiefs responded by parking tanks on the White house lawn, many of us (as I am sure many Egyptians are doing right now) may quietly and unhappily accept that outcome as the best due to the extreme circumstances.

I hope that in the future that idea of limited government is one that Egypt really takes to heart, and not just the simplistic vote for the next absolute leader. If Constitutionalism is not set down, it doesn’t matter how many elections they will have in the future, Egypt will still have issues.

I’ll admit I haven’t been keeping up with ALL the events in Egypt. But from what I gleaned, the president was either corrupt or didn’t understand his job. And the military may have ousted him, but they did set up the head of their Supreme Court as interim president.

As far as our 4th of July goes, I once had a history professor tell me that the Declaration of Independence was little more than a press release put out by a bunch of rabble rousers. Who knew what that PR would lead to? Happy 4th, everyone!

I stole your idea for a progress-o-meter, Hugh, and my readers love it!
I have my own 4th of July tradition, holing up writing and watching Will Smith’s Independence Day. That movie just never gets old for me!
Hope you find some time to relax!

Don’t forget Seria. Those poor people really need help. To think that our biggest protest was the Occupy Wall Street movement, and yet there are people having outright civil wars on the other side of the wall that has been largely ignored for 2 years. I’m grateful we live in such a prosperous country, even with its difficulties.

Hi Hugh.

One note In Cuba it will never happen as other countries is that they have one of the best health cares in the world, where everyone from rich the poor have equal service for medical assistance.

I know this subject is bit controversial, but I not here saying the Cuba is this perfect country, far from it, it has a vast majority of people that are poor. However it is not is hell on earth, ruled by the devil himself, as i heard several american friends and cousin who live in the US, say. What I’m talking about is if the poor are well treated by the government, with free education and health care, the people will remain happy.

As for Egypt and it military coup, it is not how we are usually picture it. Morsi has been contested by the Egyptian people due to his measures of making him a permanent ruler. What the military did was act what the people wanted… Morsi out of the chair of president and recall for new elections, which is actually happening.

I think there are things to admire about Cuba, but any country where people risk their lives to get OUT is doing more wrong than right. And any country where people risk their lives to get IN is doing more right than wrong.

You can stack numbers and statistics until the cows come home, but when people are voting with their lives and the lives of their children . . . well, there’s no other endorsement like that in the universe. In my opinion, at least.

I went on a first date with my wife on July 4th…20 years ago. Funny, When you good folks are celebrating your independence day, I’m happily celebrating the end of mine :)

I’m a Brit by the way ;p

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