Saturday, July 4, 2009

'Let us all draw from their courage and vision to face our challenges ... as a nation and a people'

The challenges we face today, Germanna President David A. Sam writes, may seem insurmountable, but our Founding Fathers had the courage and vision to overcome much longer odds ...

"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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
With these words, some 56 men chose to set themselves against the greatest military power of their time 233 years ago this month.

It is easy for us in our own troubled times to think things are as bad as they can be. Certainly the state of the economy and our risking the lives of some of our best young women and men in two different wars would argue for that. Certainly the arrogance and deceit of a few of our business leaders would argue for that.

But consider what it must have been like for those men--and for those women and men who depended on them to make right decisions rightly at the risk of their lives and well-being. Not only were we likely to lose the war, it was considered impossible that if we won we could govern ourselves as a democratic republic across such a huge expanse of geography and with so many people. And there were some fundamental flaws built into our beginnings, including slavery and a basic disagreement about how far individual liberty should be taken at the expense of the common good, and vice versa.

They knew what they were facing, and wrote their pledge accordingly:

"And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Or as Benjamin Franklin more wittily put it:

"We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

On this 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration and the birth of a new nation, let us all draw from their courage and vision to face our challenges and fundamental flaws as a nation and a people.

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