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Celebrating Independence Day with Perspective

Today, we celebrate America’s birthday. It was July 4th, 1776, that our nation’s founders signed the “Declaration of Independence” and launched a revolution that didn’t end for years. Our new identity was declared…but not realized until much later. It was a grand and risky experiment.­

Let me remind you of something.

photo credit: DaveLawler via photopin cc

photo credit: DaveLawler via photopin cc

Historically, a nation’s natural state is most often that of tyranny, not freedom. It’s all about the people being subservient to the governing leaders and not vice versa. When the United States was born, we turned that thinking on its ear. Many of the founders had come from England, where they’d been victims of a sovereign king who could do just about whatever he wanted. There were no proper checks and balances yet. King George ruled the day. What’s more, Great Britain owned several colonies, which were taxed without an equal voice in Anglican government. In the words of our colonial fathers, it was “taxation without representation.”

In the Beginning…

When America won its freedom, we determined our leadership would be different. It would be a government that served the people and not the other way around. It was about empowering local and state governments from New York or Washington D.C. and not the other way around. It would involve checks and balances because we understood that greed and selfishness could influence even the finest of humans. And under George Washington, it would be a republic, not be a monarchy, that was determined to stay small and out of the way of her citizens in each state.

Today, I celebrate those roots. And… I am hopeful we can return to them. Now that we live in the 21st century, it is important we stay both progressive (to meet the needs of our modern society) but principled (to retain those timeless principles and traditions that made our nation great and different in the first place).

Far too often, I feel we are drifting, committed more to imitating other countries rather than leading the way — as we did over 230 years ago. Back then, we were about growing powerful people, not powerful governments. We were about freedom and responsibility, not entitlements. We were about serving others, not insuring we got served (and filing a lawsuit if we didn’t).

There’s an old legend that says on the night of July 4,1776, King George wrote in his journal: “July 4th. Nothing happened today.”

Whether the legend is true or false… let’s work to prove it wrong.

Happy Independence Day.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Ron Dotzler on July 4, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles, they bring good perspective and insights.

    I have led an inner city mission for the past 25 years and celebrating Independence Day in the black community has been interesting. My wife is black as well and she often wonders why anyone would want to “go back” to our forefathers republic roots because it meant slavery and hardship for many. With “justice for all” was somehow missing in that ideal.

    I think it’s important to express our movement toward the ideals of our republic while recognizing the failures in it. It would be great to express what those ideals really meant and how beautiful a society could be in following them without having to “go back.” As a beautiful movement, especially in our attempts to build, we must always “go forward.” “Going back” in the black community does not necessarily stir up good feelings.

    If ever a population experienced tyranny, it was through slavery and it would be a great article if someone took those failures into consideration when writing about our great republic. I know that many African Americans in the inner city (and Indians) could be valued, benefitted and helped with such an article. Thank you for listening.

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Celebrating Independence Day with Perspective