The 4th of July.
Grilling out, hot dogs, burgers, apple pie and fireworks.
All these things we have come to represent the celebrated American holiday we call, the 4th of July.
While pleasant, those things are most certainly not what the 4th of July is about. Consumerism has done a bang up job of perverting yet another great celebratory day (Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the most prominent offenders) but this one deeply touches my heart, crying out for liberation from it’s trite food fest moniker.
Independence Day. What does that mean anymore to the average American? What does ‘Independence’ mean to other peoples in other countries? Really, ask yourself that very question, because I don’t think it’s contemplated enough.
What exactly does celebrating the Independence of America from Britain mean?
What it means to me is perfectly stated in our Country’s Declaration of Independence.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“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. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
(click on photo to read the entire Declaration)
As you can see, this was no ‘willy nilly’ band of rebel rousers who just didn’t like the King. This was an assembly of thoughtful, intelligent, well-read, articulate and worldly men who understood that our basic human rights come from ‘Natures God’, and not a king, dictator, tyrant, nor any man, and that freedom is a right, not a privilege.
That is critical to understanding American freedom, which is vastly different than say…the Egyptian freedom so newly won, and quickly deteriorating.
Why has America retained it’s freedoms so long? Because we have always understood that the giver of those basic freedoms (Life, Liberty, Happiness) is a higher power, NOT a human being. It is the responsibility we have to Natures God to be a good, moral, and virtuous people that has made America exceptional in the history of humankind. It is the fact our life, our freedom and our right to pursue happiness are not to be taken by a state nor another human that makes our founding different and unique. It is the right to own the fruits of our hard labor that defines ‘American Exceptionalism’.
There is a reason why in the period of a few hundred years, America has grown from a small band of colonists to the global superpower it has become. Our fundamental way of thinking is entirely different from the rest of the world. That is not bragging, it just is. People come from all over the world to America, seeking the freedom to prosper. Yes, the freedom to prosper means the freedom to fail, but that is a critical tool to learning how to succeed. One must fail.
Today, I don’t know how many Americans under the age of 50 really understand what the Declaration really means and what the Framers intended. How many even read our Constitution and know anything beyond the 2nd Amendment? For America to remain free, these must be taught, discussed and reflected upon.
So, I encourage you to take a moment in all the festivities and ask your family and friends:
What does America’s Independence mean to you?
And if they say BBQ’s and beer, might I suggest you read the full Declaration to them.
Then light up those fireworks, and teach your children why we light them. Not only will they have fun, but there is a richness heritage to the meaning behind it. That will enrich not only them and yourself, but also our country.
Happy Independence Day America.
God Bless this Nation.