Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

When 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. . .
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

I sincerely hope you read those words.  I realized today that I'd never read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety.  (This isn't the entirety, either, by there way.)  It's such a passionate document.  It's empowering to read.  I'm incredibly proud of the history that comes with this document, and yet I am troubled.

The same blood that flowed through the veins of several great men and women in our nation's history flows through my own veins.  I feel it my duty, therefore, to follow in their footsteps, paying them honor by enhancing the legacy they left for me.  They fought for the ideals that have come to define what it means to be a part of American culture.  I am incredibly grateful to them, because I strongly agree that they were right: All of us were born equal.  ALL of us.

George Orwell astutely pointed out in his well known Animal Farm, that many of us operate under the delusion that "Some are more equal than others."  I would like to point out that this is inherently untrue.  Our Declaration of Independence does not state that one race is more equal than another, that one language is more equal than another, even that one country is more equal than another.  It simply says that all men (and I firmly believe that they are referring to humanity in this instance) are created equal.

Though today is America's Independence Day, I think it is a day for all to celebrate  It is a day that the world triumphed, gaining leaders to whom we could all aspire to emulate.  As I told my students, these men believed so adamantly in what was written here that they were willing to risk their own and even their families' lives in order to secure it as truth.  Even those who do not admire what these people were trying to do (though why anyone wouldn't admire an attempt at establishing a certain grounds for the respect and dignity of all humanity I do not know) must admire the ardent passion that goes with making a commitment of that magnitude.  My last class today was moved to radiant pride as I described this situation to them, though none of them has even seen America.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784,Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

This is the legacy we have been given.  It is our job to carry it on, uniting all humanity under that banner, ignoring any other differences.  We are brothers and sisters.  In this day and age, we are more connected than ever before.  We should be uniting, moving together as one, loving each other as a global family.
"Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. - President Thomas Whitmore, Independence Day
I write with a certain urgency to you today.  We do not know what is ahead of our world, but across the globe people are feeling something coming.  Egypt is in turmoil, the Koreas are on edge, Bulgaria is at a stand-still (literarlly), The United States are in an uproar: The world is in a state of growing global agitation.   I do not know what is coming, but I feel it in the core of my person: Globally united we can stand, but divided we will fall.  We are only one race; we are humanity.  We are so much more connected than we know.

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