Here’s to the 4th!
Living in the United States is a unique experience at this time in history. Daily I enjoy the bounty procured by generations, but as my nation moves away from the basic tenets of law, justice, and the duties and piety of citizenship, the future may hold unpleasant surprises. I say, savor freedom while it is ours.
As a child, the 4th of July was on my radar because of the cookouts, the fireworks, the firecrackers, and the patriotic music, but as I grow older, the meaning of the day supersedes the accoutrements.
Our Declaration of Independence includes these words, “…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…” Yet we live in an era, a half-century or so, of changing governments around the world. Some changes justified, others simply to satisfy the whims of a slim minority.
When the men who signed their defiance to the crown with the words, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence [God, in our modern parlance], we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,” they put their lives on the line. How many of us use such words anymore? Is it perhaps because our causes are not sacred, nor honorable?
John Adams, firebrand political figure, described his feelings about the Battle of Bunker Hill (a loss, but a gain in courage for the American forces) in a letter to his wife, Abigail, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Trust in him at all times, ye people pour out your hearts before him. God is a refuge for us. –Charlstown is laid in ashes.” Whatever your creed, these are the words of a man who didn’t put all his faith in his own powers of brilliance or strength of arm. Self-reliance is noble, but all human selves eventually fail.
The Light and Glory
Adams projected a future beyond himself when he described what he foresaw as the festivities of the future Independence Day in America, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival… You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. –I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. –Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means.”
May this Independence Day remind us that freedom is a gift of God and that liberty is bought at a price.
And may you, in whatever nation you live, know and accept the responsibility that what you do now, what ideas you support, and causes you uphold, will be paid for by the generations that come after us. For better or worse.
Keep thinking history! Keep thinking ahead!
– Amanda Stiver