When I worked at Sears in the mid-80s, I once had a customer ask to speak to my superior. “I don’t have a superior,” I said. “I’ll be glad to let you speak to my manager, though.” Surprisingly, I held onto that job until I left on my own terms to start grad school.
Things haven’t changed much for me since then. I think that in some regards I’m the court Fool of the Mondoville faculty, and it’s a position I relish because it lets me speak the truth as I see it. (And yeah, I was even like that before I was tenured.) I tend to regard orders with skepticism, if not full-on cynicism. I suspect — indeed, hope — that I’m occasionally a pain in the ass.
In short, although I may have bosses, I have no superiors — I’m an American. And I love that my country was born of prickly types like me, folks who, in Burke’s words, “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” I’m a citizen, not a subject, and although I think too few of my countrymen recognize the difference these days, I’m blessed to live in a nation where that’s still even remotely possible. I’m glad I live in a nation that can have a gridlocked government — what some see as inefficiency, I see as the prevention of mischief. I’m proud to live in a country where declaring yourself to be elite can invite the ridicule that it should, even if too many have forgotten to do that. I hope my daughter inherits the same — and if her willingness to swim against the current is shared by enough people, then maybe she will.
Have a happy 4th, and may everyone return with as many fingers as they had when they woke up this morning. God bless the United States of America.