Independence – Bah Humbug!
I don’t see why Londoners should celebrate the Independence of the colonies from the Great British Empire. Grudgingly it seems that even we Brits and Londoners have to join in the festivities because we live in a global society. This was my first attitude. I dug deeper to see what all this was about and what it means to our huge virtual world today.
On this day in 1776 the colonies on the eastern shores of North America decided they were no longer part of Great Britain’s Empire. This action was an act of rebellion to their sovereign King George III. This act was the seed that would eventually tear the British Empire apart. If this had happen in Ireland, Wales or Scotland, (which were equally impoverished and over taxed) it would have been quashed – and fast!
Luckily for the colonies though, they were pretty much out of arms reach over on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The colonies were literally ‘at arms length’. Britain was unable to replenish dead troops and munitions fast enough to fight an effective war against these rebels.
The founding group who declared independence called themselves ‘The Enlightenment’. They believed in a vision of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. It’s still something we strive for today against all odds and against the global power brokers of this age. The original document included a long tract against slavery, but at that time it was far too controversial to put to the vote. Slavery was abolished a long time later. For the US it was in 1864 as the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. In the British Empire it was nineteen years later, in 1883.
Thomas Jefferson has a lot to answer for. He, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776. Strangely enough, both Jefferson (July 4, 1826) and Adams (July 4, 1826) died on this day – along with another founding father, James Monroe (July 4, 1831). Only Franklin (April 17, 1790) seems to have escaped the 4th July curse.
Franklin and the other Enlightenment founding fathers were all American by birth. The values they stood for still apply today. Their original claim was that all men (that includes women today) are created equal and should be treated as such.
I would go further. For virtual worlds, such as Second Life, we are people of the mind. Virtually we manifest and represent ourselves in a multitude of ways, dependent on our mood, attitudes, thoughts and intentions. These days we need to recognise that being a furry or expressing our inner child virtually needs recognition of being as equal as being a ‘fellow man’. I want to add a caveat here though.
Caveat – ‘primum non nocere’
Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm’ was part of an Oath taken by doctors and other healthcare professionals. It’s also a great moral statement. Equality to all means respect to all, which also means not abusing others or taking advantage of their vulnerability. In the era of the keyboard warrior (yes that’s you behind the screen) it’s too easy to punch those angry words into the keyboard, or scream at an animated character. But put yourself in their place, as the recipient, then count to 3.
We need a new constitution! We need a constitution for the virtual world community. If you have any suggestions for what needs including in this worldwide declaration, add your comments below.
4th July is worth celebrating. It’s worth celebrating for the values of the American Enlightenment. Values of equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone. Happy July 4th everyone!