• We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin, Freedom Fighter

  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Fighter

  • Let us be cautious in making assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms. -Rudolf Carnap, Philosopher

  • A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity. -Alfred North Whitehead, Philosopher

  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

  • Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi, Mystic

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene Descartes, Philosopher

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. -Abraham Lincoln, President

  • Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein, Scientist

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Fighter

Independence Day, 2014

These are the times that try men’s souls. — Thomas Paine, January 1776

Six months after Thomas Paine’s Common Sense brought these words to the American public, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and 53 other founders redefined the meaning of government, mutually pledging to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor.

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.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

 **************************

 Trapped in gridlock, is it time to ask if our present national government has become destructive of these ends?

According to the most recent survey by the Pew Research Center, we the people are split into three ideological camps:

  1. Partisan Republicans: 27% of us are mostly or consistently conservative. This is up from 18% in 1994.
  2. Partisan Democrats: 34% of us are mostly or consistently liberal. While up only marginally since 2004, the percentage is up from 21% in the 20 years since 1994.
  3. A shrinking center: 39% of us are neither consistently conservative nor consistently liberal. This is down from 49% in 2004.

It’s not just that we’re becoming more partisan. Increasingly, those of us who are partisan see the other side as a threat.

  • In the last 20 years, the proportion of Republicans with a “very unfavorable” view of the opposing party has risen from 17% to 43%. 36% of Republicans see the Democratic Party as being a threat to the nation’s well-being.
  • In the last 20 years, the proportion of Democrats with a “very unfavorable” view of the opposing party has risen from 16% to 38%. 27% of Democrats see the Republican Party as being a threat to the nation’s well-being.

The political gridlock we see in Washington reflects these attitudes. While a majority of us don’t see either party as a threat to the nation and believe our representatives in government should meet halfway to resolve contentious disputes rather than hold out for more of what they want, it’s difficult to find compromise among people who think that the other party represents a threat to the nation’s well-being.

This is where we have come in the 238 years since Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and the other founders brought forth our new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Is it time to alter or to abolish our Government, and institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to us shall seem most likely to effect our Safety and Happiness?

 **************************

 In one of Abigail Adams’ letters to her husband she had offered some favorite lines of Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

 238 years after embarking on our “sea of liberty,” we the people are adrift.

This makes this Independence Day a good day to set our sails, reminding ourselves of how we must navigate this sea of liberty if we are to realize our fortune, the Blessings of Liberty.

This Independence Day is a good day to set our compass to America’s true North: 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.

This Independence Day is a good day to remind ourselves of what Lincoln said in his first inaugural address “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

This Independence Day is a good day to remind ourselves of Judge Learned Hand’s wisdom that “the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women”

This Independence Day is a good day to remind ourselves of what John Adams said in the debate leading to the Declaration “We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.”

The revolution continues.

Let Freedom Ring.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014. Stan Stahl. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay in its entirety provided its source is identified asThe Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright is included.

 

 

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