• 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 2021

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.
~ Declaration of Independence.

I was in the 4th grade when I first learned the story of America. In Mr. Welch’s 4th grade classroom, we memorized the words of the Declaration and the Constitution’s Preamble. We learned how America fought the Civil War to free the slaves. We memorized the stirring words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. And we learned how it all started in 1215 in England with the Magna Carta, establishing the great principle of English Law – and American democracy – that no one – not even the King – is above the law.

Mr. Welch taught us that America was the greatest nation in the world, destined to be the savior of mankind, and the reason was – as Lincoln taught us – because we were conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

And it was our responsibility, he taught us, to continue the work of forming that more perfect union … as others had done before … to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

I wasn’t to learn until a few years later that – while Mr. Welch had taught us the truth – he hadn’t taught us the whole truth.

Yes, we were conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal … just not all men.

Mr. Welch didn’t teach us that many men throughout America’s history … including many signers of the Declaration … were not dedicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal. He didn’t teach us that Blacks in the South were being systematically denied the right to vote. He didn’t teach us that Black students in the South went to segregated schools. He didn’t teach us about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre or the nearly 6,500 other Black victims of racial terrorism between 1865 and 1950.


In telling us only part of the story of America, what Mr. Welch taught us … as I came to understand later … was the myth of America.

Myths are the stories we tell ourselves to explain who we are, why we are here, and how we should be. Myths provide a unified vision – a bridge – between who we are and who we aspire to be.

The value of America’s story is not its truth but its ability to guide us to live in accordance with the myth’s vision …to walk on the bridge that connects our past and our future, so to speak … to continually strive toward that more perfect union.

The power of America’s story lies in the accounts of the triumph of our vision over those who would deny that vision. As Mr. Welch taught us, our first triumph occurred in 1215 in England, and included our victory over King George in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and two World Wars.

The most powerful stories are those where we come face to face with our own dark side, stories of triumph over ourselves. These are the stories of America’s triumphs at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Seneca Falls and Stonewall and Standing Rock, the triumphs of the 14th and 15th Amendments, the triumph of the 19th Amendment, the triumph of Lyndon Johnson signing into law the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills.


We are once again confronted by America’s dark side … those standing in opposition to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Using as justification Donald Trump’s false claims that were it not for fraud, he would have won the 2020 election, Republican state legislators have introduced hundreds of bills and at least 14 states have passed laws … in clear disregard of the proposition that all men are created equal … making it more difficult for some of their citizens to vote than for others. Some 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year.

Yesterday, 245 years after 56 delegates at Independence Hall mutually pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor, white supremacists marched in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty.

And nowhere is our dark side more insidious … and more damaging … than in the attacks from the deniers of Critical Race Theory.


A sports team if it is to be successful must know not only its strengths but its weaknesses. It’s the same with a business or other competitive enterprise. Business strategy often commences with a SWOT analysis … a detailed analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

In nations – as in business and sports – we only get better by acknowledging our weaknesses.

And America’s greatest weakness right now is the disparate opportunities between our people that is the lingering consequence of the reality that there has always been two separate America’s: the America that Mr. Welch taught his students and the America that he didn’t teach us. Like long-tail COVID lasting long after the body has shed the disease, America continues to be weakened by the long-tail of our racist heritage.

If I’m the shortstop on our baseball team, it doesn’t help us win games if I’m defensive and in denial that I have a weakness on balls hit to my left. If I’m to help my team, I want you to tell me … I insist that you tell me … where my weaknesses are. I can’t be concerned that you’ll hurt my feelings … there is, after all, no crying in baseball.

And right now, winning games means competing in a global economy under never before seen conditions of climate and technological change.

According to a detailed study by Citigroup, the long-tail of America’s racist heritage … current discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including education, policing, and access to business loans, … cost the U.S. economy $16 trillion between 2000 and 2019. And not acting to reverse discriminatory practices continues to exact a cost. Citigroup estimated that the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans. Such a boost would lift the economy by 25%.

By helping us understand how the long-tail of 1619 continues to be embedded in America’s culture, Critical Race Theory gives us the opportunity to learn from … and heal from … our mistakes. The result can only be a stronger America, fully capable of meeting our competitive challenges.


We are engaged in a great battle with Russia, China, and other autocracies over economic success in the 21st century.

Upon this battle depends the ability of our people to have careers with purpose. Upon this battle depends the ability of our people to have freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Upon this battle depends the survival of the proposition that all men are created equal.

In this battle America cannot afford to fritter away our scarce resources on racism.

If we come together as one Nation, standing up to the deniers, overcoming our dark side, living out the true meaning of our creed, we will move closer to that more perfect union.

But if we fail, if our divisions at home give victory to our enemies, then the whole world, including all that we have known and cared for since 1776, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age where the rule of law is replaced by the power of the autocrats, where the shouts of the white supremacists screaming “Jews will not replace us” will have become reality.

Let us therefore recommit ourselves on this day, the 245th anniversary of our founding, to the proposition that all men are created equal so that, to borrow from Winston Churchill, if the United States lasts for a thousand years, let them still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Let Freedom Ring.

Enjoy my essays? Read my book. The Agnostic Patriot: A Citizen Searches for the Soul of America. Available on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3h35QvY.  

Copyright © 2021. Stan Stahl, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay provided the essay is reproduced unedited and in its entirety, its source is identified as The Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org, and this copyright NOTICE is included. 

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