Reflections of the 4th of July Holiday

3 Jul

DeclarationOn July 4, 1776 thirteen colonies, which would become the United States, declared their independence from England through the Declaration of Independence. I thought it would be interesting to look at this holiday and the document which sparked the American Revolution and examine where we are now through a social justice lens.

I must confess that I weep a little every time I read the Declaration of Independence, for it really is a beautiful living document.

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Allowing for the sexist language in its context, this is some powerful stuff here. Now —  237 years later — how are we living up to this declaration?  Several points come to mind when I read this and I worry we are still failing.  When I look at the current environment of how we try to control women and the disgraceful misogyny displayed today (Rick Perry and Wendy Davis), I am saddened. When I think about how we continue to target and marginalize the LGBT community, I am saddened.  When I think about the multigenerational impact of the intentional marginalization of people of color, I am saddened. When I think about the Occupy Movement and the devastating disparity in income in the United States, I am truly saddened.

What are we to do? How do we right these wrongs? How do we “throw off such a Government” that seems to be working for only 24% of Americans? How do we end endless wars? How do we take better care of our veterans? How do we ensure ALL people have health care?

It seems to me we have the answer in the Declaration of Independence.  The document charges us all with the task of: “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.”

A true democracy — of the people, for the people, by the people — is a glorious thing. But a Congress frozen in partisan bickering and held hostage by a slender fringe minority, a high court that capriciously abuses its power to place corporations over people, an executive that practices terror to fight terror, these are not democratic ways.

There must be some type of resistance, or non-violent way to have a revolution that ensures: “that all men (people) 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.” Let us all join together, demanding the full celebration of our rights, and help transform this country to best represent its lofty, and laudable, intentions.

7 Responses to “Reflections of the 4th of July Holiday”

  1. Central Oregon Coast NOW July 3, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  2. dykewriter July 3, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    your founding fathers expected another revolution and replacement of what they put in place within 50 years

    so in that sense… america is a failed social experiment

    which is tragic

    you were the first country to say that the individual was the social unit of consequence with the freedom to take liberties with what makes one happy

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 3, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Nina, I do think it was wonderful that there is something specific about “the pursuit of happiness” but I am sad that we have so far to go around issues of racial equity and our Supreme Court just set us backwards by over a 100 years with the Shelby county decision regarding voting rights.

      • dykewriter July 3, 2013 at 11:39 am #

        well you have to put it in the social context

        they were only talking about white men who had money and land

        and the idea that.. it’s a John Steinbeck quote

        about the poor acting like they are not exploited, but rather temporarily embarrassed millionaires

        there’s a hustler con artist tone in american society that I don;t think is in other countries

        hucksters, snake oil salesmen

        so much of what people can make money on is just a revenue stream of suckers

        rather than contributing anything meanful

        and those that made it rich early

        don’t want to be joined by othre people

        it’s the friction of demographic groups

        and there’s a bizarre full circle where something likje 38% of americans want a theocracy

        that’s a huge failure of government

        I don;t understand how Americans can say they have the best government when they demand the need to be armed against it

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt July 3, 2013 at 11:57 am #

        Nina, I guess I would maintain that people around the world that believe Capitalism is the best way to run a country share many of the descriptors you articulated.

      • dykewriter July 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

        capitalism with a socialist sense of community and corporate responsibility could be good for the world

        sadly, personhood for people means the right to be exploited

        and personhood for companies means something else

        I am astonishing at how much stuff that is worthless is produced for the sake of producing something

        we need to sort out what and why we do things

        not just keep doing them

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