4th of July is a reminder of the indomitable human spirit that had the courage under fire to do the right thing under the divine law. As we celebrate our unalienable freedoms on Independence Day, freedoms that we often take for granted, we often forget the sacrifice, the grit and the vision that created the greatest nation the world has ever seen. When the immortal Thomas Jefferson penned the words – “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”, he was not sitting on a comfortable chair, in peace, with comfortable air-conditioner running in the background. He was aware that the ratification of this document was an act of treason against the British crown. He along with other founding fathers had a vision to create a nation based upon justice and divine moral code. Their faith was so deep and conviction so absolute that they did not care whether they live or they die.
Their faith and conviction was aptly described by an unknown man during the deliberations during the declaration of independence: “They may turn every tree into gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope, to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.”
The goal was to create an order, where human freedom and aspirations were paramount, where anyone could pursue any dream and make it a reality. It is no ordinary goal to become the beacon of light to shine in the world, to demonstrate what a nation created on a strong foundation can achieve. But, we also must remember that big goals take time to achieve. It is one thing to write the ideal on a piece of paper and another to have the collective conscience of the vast majority of people to believe and act in accordance with the lofty goals. It is one thing to sip from the bottle of beer with a drumstick in the other hand and talk about sports and another to accept the challenge to do what it takes to build a great nation. It is one thing to complain about the greedy corporations and corrupt politicians and another to do what it takes to make it better.
You might say, “Ok, ok, enough with the preaching. Even if I agree with you, what can I do? I am just a common man.” That is a great question. There are no ordinary people on this planet, it is their thinking that makes them ordinary or extraordinary, creators or consumers, doers or complainers. If you look at the history of the world, contrary to what some people believe, our moral code has not degraded over the years. There were corrupt politicians, cruel rulers and deceptive sellers when Jesus was walking on the planet. But at the same time during those dark moments, moral and ethical leaders had emerged to strengthen the moral code and defend the way of righteous living. As a nation, we are facing some tough times. As Lincoln said during his time, we are again becoming a house divided by petty politics.
What can we do to preserve this legacy and the values on which the nation was founded?
Here is one action that we can take to honor the sacrifices and vision of the founding fathers:
We can Unite against the common enemy of hatred within the country: If you look at social media or the news today, it is full of sensational news and hateful dialogue between supports of different political ideologies. I might have the naivete of Pollyanna but I do believe that if we are arguing for our point of view, it does mean that we care about the country. If people on both sides of the isle care, why are we fighting with each other. Why can’t we accept our differences and focus on the common enemy which is causing the country to fall behind? We are in the middle of the greatest times in the history, we are at the cusp of transformational and disruptive scientific breakthrough. Simultaneously, we are at a time of widespread global violence. Now, is the time to be deliberate and careful on one hand and yet courageous and visionary on the other. We can’t forget the immortal principles that our country was founded on – an inclusive and welcoming nation defending righteousness and fairness in the world. Anytime, we find that our speech or actions don’t reflect these principles or are actively against it, we need to stop and change our thinking. We are lucky to be in a place, where majority of the people can sleep in peace under a strong roof with satiated bellies. Let us not forget the sacrifices that gave us this freedom and peace. Let us be fiercely protective of these freedoms and yet compassionate towards the world. We need to speak up when injustice happens within the country with anyone. The silence of the intellectuals has sounded the death-knell of many great nations. Standing up for inclusiveness against discrimination based upon race, color, gender, religion or sexual preference, is the need of the hour. As Victor Hugo once said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. Here is a poem from the Holocaust Museum regarding the indifference of the German intellectuals during Hitler’s time:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Let us not think like the German intellectuals during Hitler’s time. The bottom line is that if you cherish the ideals of morality, non-discrimination, honesty, integrity and freedom, it is your moral responsibility to speak up and protect the immortal principles that have created and preserved the nation. The need of the hour is to unite under one goal to strengthen our nation through big dreams, lofty ideals and relentless hard work.
As we remember the price of freedom – the sacrifices and the immortal principles, let us celebrate the birthday of USA with fun and excitement sharing the emotions of John Adams when he said the following, “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” he wrote his wife, Abigail. “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”
Happy Birthday to the good old US of A, one nation under God with justice and liberty for all!