Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Reflection on Liberty

                                           "God shed his grace on thee..."
                                                    America the Beautiful, Katharine Lee Bates

 The history is known by  all American children.

    This  messy experiment we call the United States of America got it's start when a somewhat rag-tag group of colonists decided they had had enough of the tyrannical English king.  They declared their  independence from Great Britain  on a momentous day in July 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.   The revolt against the British had begun the  year before and now  it became all out war, albeit a very lop-sided one, since the British had the strongest military in the world.

    The American colonies somehow  beat off the British  although it took eight bitter years of fighting. The Americans then began the work of forming a government.  This was not a quick or easy process and it wasn't until 1887, after a few false starts,  that the Constitution was ratified.  The hard work of forming the Union required each and every state to compromise.  That's how they got it done!!

   What made this new government  unique?  The colonists had achieved liberation from tyranny,  then they went on to form a government where people with different ideas, needs and priorities could live together in peace, working out their differences  by compromise, by  voting, by  representation, using  the rule of law and most important, the peaceful passing  of power  to the newly elected!  (Thank you George Washington)

  And so we  celebrate  Independence Day, the 4 th of July, as the beginning of our American story.    This day should provoke some thoughtful reflection by all of us as we head into the election.   

   What does it mean to have liberty? 

   What are the responsibilities that go along with  the rights and freedoms that we enjoy? 

    Can we turn down the volume of the demagogues who shout from our airwaves, so we can listen to one another? 

   Can we continue to  hammer out compromises  in the tradition of Jefferson and Hamilton, Franklin and Washington to  solve the problems of the 21st century and preserve their vision?  Indeed, expand it!

  Can we elect people with these ideals to represent us?

    Begun by a unique  group of people who were bold enough  to try something new, something truly revolutionary,  the United States of America is still a grand experiment.  The founders  did not get everything perfect right out of the box, obviously,  but the ideas they set in motion have allowed our  country to evolve,  always inching toward that  glorious vision.

    Let us move forward,  toward the dream, bringing it closer to reality.

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