This week our country celebrates the Fourth of July. We should take note of our history at this moment. Older nations have commented on our country’s short existence, that we are in an adolescent stage, both socially and politically. And so it is true, looking back on our historical narrative, even up to the present: abuse, removal, enslavement, exploitation and imprisonment of indigenous populations and peoples of color and ethnicity and destruction of the land itself—we have displayed arrogance and callous disregard for humanity and sacred space.
Perhaps our founding fathers would have been proud of our many accomplishments. We have come very far, very fast, but they would have scratched their powdered wigs, perplexed by the multitude of social and economic problems we have brought upon ourselves and continue to grapple with ineffectively at best.
One would think the Declaration of Independence’s endowment for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” would be a reasonable template for an honest government and a framework for the populace to put their trust in.
Reflecting back over 150 years, our country survived a civil war, two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, a major depression and a major recession, but our country somehow found the angels of our better nature in service to its citizenry—not perfectly, and most assuredly with much need for improvement.
Incumbent upon all of us in these times is to be more vigilant than ever regarding the guiding principles of that declarative document and that they be held high as a remembrance to ideals embraced then and in sore need now.
When we return to our lives after the holiday and fireworks are over, let us look into the eyes of family members, friends, co-workers and even strangers among us and know that their personal ideals are no different from our founding father’s values and our own.
E. G. Singer lives in Santa Rosa.
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