On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate not only liberty, independence, and freedom; we also celebrate the power of the written word. Other countries celebrate their independence on the day a jail was stormed, the day a monarch granted autonomy, the day a war was won. Americans celebrate the day the country’s founders put quill to ink and crafted an elegant screed. Word up.
We don’t have a monarch here in America, but we do have sacred texts that we hold every bit as dear. The Declaration of Independence
, like its brother the Constitution, is a brilliant document but an imperfect one. We cringe now at the Constitution’s three-fifths compromise
, and similarly, this bit from the Declaration, recalling one of the crimes of King George, certainly clashes with the premise than all men are created equal:
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
We take for granted how extraordinary the American experiment was at the time that it began. And we also take for granted how much closer we are now to a society that holds as “self-evident truth” the equality of all. But look: In 1776, we were still talking about savages. And slaves.
This country was not perfect when it was created. It is not perfect now. But it remains a bold experiment, one that thus far has brought a higher standard of living to more people than any experiment that came before. As the experiment continues, there will be further missteps
, and there will be unexpected triumphs
. But even when things are looking really bleak
, keep your chin up, and have some faith in this country. And today, take a moment to admit it: We are, in fact, very lucky to live here.
Happy Fourth of July, folks.