Thursday, July 4, 2013

We Hold These Truths... be self-evident, that all men are created equal...

The little document drawn up in that hall in Philadelphia back in '76 could have used a few footnotes.  It would be nice to know who the signers of the document considered "men."

Most likely, they thought the definition itself to be "self-evident."  Men????  Why, people like ourselves, of course!

Certainly not people of color, nor the "merciless Indian Savages" (ref., section 10 of the Declaration), could be considered "men" who had been created equal.  Created?  Sure!  But equal?   Equal to ourselves?  Not this side of Eternity!!!  Or the Atalantic.  

We are not so different from these men of 237 years ago.  We have some grand visions, some very flawed ones.  

But here's an oddity for us to consider.  They had mutually pledged to each other "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." 

They said in higher sounding words: 
This is how we will live as of today. 
This is worth living for. 
This is worth dying for. 
So be it!


They did not draw up this declaration after years of war, bloodshed and eventual capitulation by the British.  1776 was years before what we call "The Revolutionary War."  The Declaration was not part of the surrender documents signed by the British, after which the American colonists finally sighed, "At last we can think about being free--because we have won a military victory."

No.  They became free when they had declared themselves to BE free of George III of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 


Yet, to die for is the number of times we have failed to embody and insist on the most basic concepts of the Declaration.

Or when we have willingly let go of them because we were honestly afraid of being that free.  Or couldn't be bothered to take the effort.   

It's wonderful at this national holiday celebrating the birth of our nation to remember that it was not a military victory that founded it.  Rather, it was the birth of an idea.  Honor members of our military, veterans for sure.  Always.  

But honor others even more highly:  people not afraid to speak and write and live the highest ideals and vision of which we human beings are capable.  Honor our best thinkers.  Especially the ones who are willing to pledge their lives in the cause of these ideas.

Living here requires more of us than being allegiantly inert, dutifully uniformed, steadfastly inactive, loyally blind, unconvinced of the common good.

Living here requires more than complacently thinking that we are kept "free" by a volunteer military that over 98% of Americans will never participate in. 

Freedom is not the same as safety and security with which it is too commonly conflated and confused.  Safety and security exist in the absence of threats and violence.  Freedom exists in the presence of activity.  Freedom exists not in its having but in its doing.  It must be exercised or it asphyxiates.      

In honor of the visionary forebears who thought their way to freedom before anyone ever fought their way, here's Roger's "Pledge of Performance":

I recognize, and I accept the privileges and the responsibilities of citizenship in these United States of America.  And I pledge my very best efforts in the faithful exercise of both my whole life long.   

May such truths become self-evident.  Soon.  Always. 


1 comment:

Tom Coleman said...

Roger, Those of us who care, appreciate that you care to put your beliefs and passions on paper. To speak out and be heard as one man pushing against the tide of public indifference.