To celebrate the 4th of July, I walked down the hall this morning and placed an American flag on Michael Swain’s office door. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy harassing my friend, Michael, during American holidays. Being a proud Englishman, Michael has a different (dare I say distorted?) perspective of American history, at least different than most folks here in Middle Tennessee (not to mention that he usually needs an interpreter to order at Sonic). While we celebrate the 4th of July by overeating, watching NASCAR, and blowing things up, Michael quietly sips Earl Grey tea in bone China and watches Wimbledon. We call it Independence Day; Michael calls it the “Day of Rebellion” or “the worst mistake in American history.”
I used to think history was about facts. Now I think it may be more about perspective, and upbringing. For instance, I was taught that America liberated the Philippines from the evil Spaniards during the Spanish/American War in 1898. Then I moved to the Philippines and learned that the Americans and the Spanish were both seen as uninvited invaders. Did America liberate or colonize the Philippines in 1898? All depends on perspective, and passport.
I guess if my ancestors had not made the “greatest mistake in American history” and if Michael’s ancestors had quelled the rebellion, then our kids would be wearing Air Beckhams and the Atlanta Braves would be a cricket team. Perspective: I am learning more and more that mine is not always completely right, but neither is that other guy’s. Perspective: is it rebellion, or independence? If rebellion, is it just or juvenile? If independence, is it healthy or self-serving? Help us Lord, to have your perspective, as much as humanly possible.