Before you jump to the conclusion that old Franklin has totally lost his marbles, let me explain further.
I had remarked on a very curious event I’d personally witnessed, in which some ordinary house flies, which had fallen into a cask of Madeira, and were thus preserved, were then revived some time later.
In my letter, I expressed the hope that some new method of embalming might be invented, so that a person so preserved could also be brought back to life at any future time, no matter how distant. My interest in this topic was, of course, personal: if there were such a method, I would have liked to have been similarly preserved in a cask of Madeira, and brought back to life a hundred or so years later, so that I might see how our bold experiment in democracy ultimately turned out.
Well, dear reader, as you know, it probably wasn’t the Madeira wine that brought me here to this 21st century. I am still trying to comprehend how it actually happened, but for the time being, I am content to accept the fact that I am here, and very eager to take advantage of this situation.
So, on the occasion of this Fourth of July, the celebration of our independence declared back in 1776, I thought it might be appropriate to take a moment to imagine myself being brought back to life, like that fly in the Madeira wine, and then sharing my thoughts on the experience.
- First of all, as I look around me, I am very proud to see a country that is so much larger than I ever imagined in the 18th century. And I am also amazed and astounded by all the scientific and technological progress that has occurred since those days. All modesty aside, it would be as if a thousand Benjamin Franklins had been turned loose, and encouraged to invent new things by the dozens, day and night, to make life better for us all.
- Secondly, I am glad to see the present state of the government — and am relieved to learn that no matter what difficulties it may currently be facing, it is still nevertheless holding together, as we Founding Fathers had hoped it would. Certainly, I can envision all sorts of improvements on our original invention, to help make things run more smoothly in Washington, D.C., but I still believe that it was the best possible political system for the time, and in fact the passing of more time has proven the workability of this new form of government.
- Thirdly, I would offer a note of understanding, comfort, and perspective from the past. That is, the political stalemates, the feuding between parties, and so forth, are really nothing new. We had those in my day, too. It is actually a miracle that our committees managed to finish their work, and deliver such timeless documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which provided a foundation for governance that has lasted over 300 years! But, yes, we had our own set of difficult political personalities, seemingly irreconcilable differences, and behind-the-scenes influencers (from both inside and outside) conspiring to shape our work for their own agenda, not for the good of the country.
- And, fourthly (what a nice, appropriate, and symbolic number, on this Fourth of July!), I would like to remind everyone that, like those embalmed flies, we too have the power of rebirth and renewal. We may not understand how it happened for those flies — and I am still puzzling over how I managed to be transported to the future, as I was — but regardless, whether or not it is comprehensible or fathomable, this does serve as a symbol of hope for each and every one of us…including the leadership in Washington! Ours is not to question how it happens, but to accept that it does, and to express our appreciation for this great gift by truly embracing the new opportunities that such a new life offers. Let us move beyond petty bickering and finally get down to the business at hand, of leading this country forward into a new century of progress.
Finally, if anyone is interested in celebrating this Fourth with a fireworks display, I happened to come across a video on this thing called Youtube – not of an Independence Day display, but actually a “First Night Boston” fireworks show from a few years ago, photographed by an acquaintance of mine. (Click here to view).
The reason I offer this particular one is because as a “first of the year” event, it is the perfect symbol for our own political and personal situations — the first day of the rest of our lives! Let’s not waste it.
Your humble servant,