A lot has changed in nearly 250 years

By Don Rush

This past weekend with fireworks and much merriment, we celebrated the declaration of our country’s independence. Not, as some get confused, our being independent from the old world’s superpower, England. On July 4, 1776 we merely announced to the world that we were free and were prepared to back up our words with action.

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 . . .

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; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.”

The rest, as the say, is history.

Do folks these day still think or talk about sacred Honor?

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I am always amazed how far the world has come in those 246 years since our declaration. Our country is far from perfect, however I still stand for the ideals of a “more perfect” union and individual rights as were enumerated years after the Declaration by the Constition of the United States of America. This nation has not always done things the “right” way — the way we would do them today. But, their actions didn’t take place today. Since this is the case, I am still more apt to cut the founding fathers some slack. While it is easy to judge using today’s morays on actions from hundreds of years ago, I’m not sure that is totally a fair way of thinking. They did things that were legal in their day and somehow set the ball rolling for more freedoms for everyone – and not just the elite ruling class.

Amazing to think that folks like Thomas Jefferson, Benjiman Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, et al, could only look up to the sky and guess about what was up there. Now we have “rovers” rolling around and sending back pictures of Mars. We have been to the moon. We have all but wiped out diseases like polio and small pox. We can grow food year round, and if we can’t we can have it shipped around the world in a couple of days. We have the internet for goodness sakes with instant information at our fingertips!

The American experience, our experiment in self-governance, is ever-changing and evolving and it’s my hope folks in this nation – even the ones I may not agree with – understand we all can be better. I hope too in these times of national turmoil and conspiracy theories that folks take the time to understand how our constituionally limited republic works. Do they still teach kids these days about the three branches of government, each’s responsibilities and the concept of checks and balances. How much time is spent on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

When I reflect upon Independence Day I am glad to be a citizen of the United States of America. I’d rather be here, despite our flaws, than anywhere else on Earth.

Send your comments to DontRushDon@gmail.com

One response to “A lot has changed in nearly 250 years”

  1. Very well said! It would be a service to us all to reflect on those documents and what change came from them.

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