July 4, 2016 – Today is Independence Day; the day our nation declared its independence from the rule of Great Britain. That is what we have been celebrating ever since the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, to memorialize that courageous act.
Let me emphasize how courageous it was.
In effect, our Founding Fathers were potentially signing their death warrants. By signing the Declaration of Independence, they were challenging the greatest power on earth at that time: King George and Great Britain. However, their love of liberty and sense of justice was so great that they knowingly made that commitment.
While the Declaration of Independence set forth the grounds for such action, it also established the values upon which our nation was to evolve. Its second sentence has become the moral standard for human rights initiatives since that time.
The beginning of that second sentence deserves revisiting: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” I challenge each of us to consider those words carefully particularly on this hallowed day.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” suggests that the concept about to be noted is so obvious that it cannot be questioned. It is simply a “truth” to which we all subscribe, and that simple, indisputable “truth” is “that all men are created equal.”
This is a driving force for me, and I hope it is for you as well… not only this day when we celebrate the birth of our nation, but every day as we try to live up to the ideals that our Founding Fathers established 240 years ago today.
I am determined to bring meaning to those words and that simple “truth.” Every position I take, and every solution I propose is predicated on making sure that all men and women are treated equally. Whether the issue touches upon our foreign policy, energy and the environment, education, the economy, our national defense, immigration or social welfare, I think about it in terms of whether the solutions that are proposed are fair. Do they provide an equal opportunity to all? Do they treat the parties involved with respect and dignity?
Too often, we seem to look past that clear standard. Our solutions often favor those with more power, those with more money, and those with more political influence. What if we were to design solutions that acknowledged the principle that “all men are created equal” and honored it accordingly?
Wouldn’t our racial issues be addressed? Wouldn’t the same be true of our religious issues, our immigration issues, our sexual orientation issues, and issues of equal pay, minimum wage, education, environmental protection, etc.?
Why do we choose to make it so hard when the answers should be so easy? Why don’t we just reaffirm that “We hold these truths to be self-evident…,” renew our pledge that we believe “that all men are created equal…,” and begin to behave accordingly.
I think about this every day. I ask that you join me in that exercise, if not every day, then today.
May you enjoy every minute of Independence Day, and may you appreciate every minute of your independence.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
(Please feel free to express you opinion below. My only request is that you do so rationally rather than emotionally and in a civil manner that respects the rights of others to disagree.)