Today is Independence Day. Our newspaper carried this editorial:
The link goes to a quote of a portion of the Declaration. The words are inspiring. The tension in the room squeezing the hearts of all who stood beside the table prepared to sign is palpable within the document’s words. Those men knew what they were doing. They were not stupid.
Though the document is a declaration of independence against a tyrannical British King it is also a declaration of interdependence, too. Without the bond of nationhood that grew from those noble words the United States of America would not have existed.
Through the years, decades, and centuries America has become about as diverse as any single nation can be. It has absorbed peoples and cultures from all around the world. Americans have fought each other in many ways from the great and horrific Civil War to countless cultural, political and societal battles that continue to rage as I write.
In the past arguments have been settled eventually and Americans have come together. Differences were set aside as we closed ranks to meet and defeat enemies of various sorts to our Democratic Republic. America, at its very foundation, stood for something. Often misguided, sometimes totally wrong, but always making a good faith effort, the citizens of America believed in those things the nation stood for, those grand ideals captured in the Declaration and a decade later in the Constitution.
But we no longer stand together. We are a house divided. Americans have declared their own “Independence days,” living for themselves and fighting only to improve their own lot in life no matter how their actions affect others. I could list thousands of examples but you, the reader, do not need them. You know them by heart. You see the struggle for self-satisfaction every day in the media, on TV, in movies, on the Net, and perhaps in your own life.
I made a personal vow yesterday to abandon those things which cause suffering to myself and others and to choose, instead, to follow a better way. All those things I abandoned, wealth, fame, sex, power and luxurious food and material objects have become America’s Holy Grails. Pursuit of them represent the worst in human society. A nation filled with individuals who clamor after personal wealth and fame, sexuality, power and materialism is not a nation at all, it’s just a group of people crowded together within a political boundary. We are quickly loosing the nation which began on Independence Day, July 4, 1776–if we haven’t lost it already.
The Founding Fathers rejected wealth, fame, power and luxury when they signed their names to that incredible document. Some were killed in the war to follow. Many lost family and property. Most lost luxury and they all knew how insane what they were doing was in the face of the formidable power of Great Britain. THEY made a vow not too far removed from my own, that day they signed the Declaration.
Would that Americans understood what truly happened that day! Would that Independence Day mean more to the average citizen than a day to have hot-dogs in the park, watch fireworks, and for most get a day off. Would that they realized that July 4, 1776 was a great and terrible day, a day fraught with danger, foreboding, and fear. We celebrate. They didn’t. They knew what lay ahead.
What Americans need to do, indeed must do, is tear down the walls that divide us. We must cast aside personal ambitions and stop chasing golden parachutes and vow to once again face an uncertain future arm-in-arm, as a body of citizens not as a bunch of selfish and self-righteous individuals. America has had an Independence Day. What we need now is an Interdependence Day, a day to celebrate our nation and our diversity and our ability to build a future for our nation based not upon personal gain or wealth but mutual support in an effort to insure this nation and its children live together not in abject wealth with absolute power over the world but in peace, in harmony, in a community based prosperity.
I am broken hearted and distressed at what our nation has become but I still thank our Creator for the brave men who signed the Declaration. The editorial quote concludes thus:
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 the 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; …. 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.
Our Independence has already been declared. It is time, then, to take to heart those most important words: we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. and declare not independence but interdependence, that we are one nation, united in purpose and in dedication to the American ideals of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a true happiness that comes only when a community is united in spirit, in purpose, in selfless consideration and compassion for each other.
I’m ready to sign that declaration. Who else will sign it? Who else is ready and willing to sign an American Declaration of INTER-dependence?
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