Happy Fourth of July weekend! No matter what your politics. Whether today you are happy or annoyed by what is going on in our country. We who are citizens of the United States have a lot to be proud of.
I have done enough traveling in my life, visited enough other countries to realize how unique the United States is. I have visited countries that impose harsh restrictions on its citizens, that repress freedoms of expression and religion. I am always grateful to come back home to America.
On July 4, 1776, a group of very courageous people, with the threat of execution for treason, crafted and signed a document that declared the independence of thirteen colonies in America from the reign of a British sovereign.
This Declaration of Independence, that too often we yawn through or simply take for granted, is a catalytic document which defined and energized a political movement. Words matter! We must read this document with a sense of awe and gratitude:
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….
From this document, a new nation was birthed, founded on principles of liberty and the rights of individuals not kings. “We the people” is the phrase that begins the US Constitution. It clearly states a new way of governing and being governed: a democracy, a government built upon the consent of the governed. This is a principle that has been advocated for, fought for and defended through marches, and wars, and legislatures, and courts.
No country is perfect, and this country is still learning and will always be learning how to be a country, a people who work for the common good of its citizens, its other residents, and for the good of the world. We are still wrestling with issues of justice for the marginalized and the stranger. This wrestling will continue.
Yet–today as every day, I am proud to be an American.
Happy Birthday to my country, our country: the United States of Amerca.