We’re celebrating Independence Day here in the United States today, Monday, July 4. But, unfortunately, some of us are feeling less independent than in former years. As we “progress” in our nation, we seemed to be allowed fewer freedoms to think, say, work, rest, recreate, or worship as we once did. Sometimes it seems as though “thought or action police” lurk in every corner of our society to catch us saying or doing something they find offensive and then quickly slap a label on us if our beliefs differ from their own. In many ways it feels as though we’re creeping (or careening) back toward tyranny, something one of our founding fathers and one of the primary authors of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, risked his life and fortune to stand against.
While you can find legitimate faults in Jefferson (as you can in all of us), before you cast a he-was-a-woman-abusing-white-privileged-slave-holder accusation his way, return to your history books (legitimate ones and not the revisionist types prevalent today) to learn that Jefferson was indeed prepared to lose everything he owned for the greater cause and ideal of a United States of America. Reading the first draft of the Declaration will show you that he had strong words to say against slavery and wanted it confronted and abolished right alongside gaining independence from England. He wanted to go all the way. Those strong words were deleted, however, by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams because these two men felt that some of the Southern colonies would walk away from the union if slavery were part of the equation. So be assured that when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal,” he meant it!
Does Thomas Jefferson still speak to us today? He does, and we should not lose sight of his dreams for our country, and for the Jeffersonian dreams of those who reside here and truly love this nation and its founding principles. We should also re-read the Declaration to see what it really says, to remember on what principles this country was founded. Instead of making up new ones, we need to return to the old. They’re as relevant now as they were 240 years ago.
So for those of you celebrating Independence Day, remember it’s not just about hot dogs, apple pie, lots of beer, and another vacation-from-work day. It’s a day to spend some time pondering what makes this nation great, what we’re individually doing to keep it great, and what we’re doing individually to responsibly promote happiness and prosperity for all people in this country. It’s a day to pray for the foundational health and continued blessing of this nation. It’s a day to recognize, and thank, the Creator who “built” it in the first place. Then grab a hot dog and raise a toast to the fifty-six signers of the Declaration who also wanted everyone here to be able to pursue life, liberty and happiness!
Happy Fourth of July!!
To read the Declaration of Independence, go to: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
To see how one writer feels Jefferson is still relevant to us today, go to:
Historical tidbit: Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, once fierce enemies and later friends, died within hours of one another on July 4, 1826—the day the United States celebrated its 50th birthday.
Until next Monday, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter! Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!
When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer