On July 4th, celebrations of independence will happen across America. Backyard barbecues and picnics will culminate with fireworks lighting up the night. Independence Day marks when thirteen colonies declared that they would unite and create something that had not existed in the world yet: a democratic nation.
The founders wrote that in being independent from England, its mother state, the newly-created nation would learn to stand on its own by the power and will of the people. Governance based on representation of the demographics of the colonies would be formed so that the United States (still colonies at that point) would be a government and nation “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Though early forms of democratic – populace – rule were as old as ancient Athens, nothing on this scale had yet been attempted in the world.
Independence from England could only be accomplished, however, through inter-dependence. The colonies would have to band together, north and south. Assistance from other nations such as France and Spain would be necessary. And, the population of the colonies – almost all immigrants or imported slaves – would have to work together toward a goal that was almost inconceivable. Should any one of these primary, necessary inter-dependent factors not come forward, the United States of America would not have emerged, won independence, or established right relations with mother England.
Forward thinking rooted in faith in human beings and what human ingenuity collectively engaged is capable of inspired and supported the three men who are behind the words and wisdom of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson held a vision together, sparked by their life experiences as well as their wishes for humanity. It was the vision of a nation that held certain truths as self-evident; truths that are plain, felt and recognized in the hearts and minds of all conscious human beings. Jefferson wrote, “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 … .” The vision of a new democracy went on to state, “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.”
This July 4th, as rancor, disrespect, and lack of civility all too often now come from the seats vested with the power of the people, let us remember the vision entrusted to all generations to come by the founders of this nation. Independence requires and rests upon the interconnected, interdependent, collaborative and creative functioning of a people united. Abraham Lincoln restated this wisdom less than a hundred years after 1776 when he said, “A house divided falls.” So, this July 4th, let us take up the vision along with its limitless and inconceivable positive thoughts for human kind.
Read the Declaration of Independence. (Read it aloud. Send its vibration into America and the world.)