It’s hard to come away from celebrating the United State’s birth of independence and not be moved. We celebrate independence because a group of people, frustrated by what they outlined in the Declaration of Independence as an over-reaching and inappropriate use of power, grouped together and fought for their “unalienable Rights” rather than surrender to the role of victim.
Have you read it in awhile? Ever? Here’s a portion:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Rights, “endowed by their Creator,” “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” acted as cornerstones and beacons attracting Colonists to uncharted territories. The chance to Dream and to live without tethers of tyranny. The Rights that continue to shine brightly in the Hope upon which they rest. And Colonists intended (knew the only way) to pursue these Rights is through independence, not dependence. For there is no other way. .
So, when’ the words “you’re owed” and “you deserve” sit perched at the tip of society’s tongue, the Rights’ shine begins to dim. When, transitioned to “I’m owed” and “I deserve”, it is all but snuffed out. For at this point, ownership of the Right is transferred from the individual to the power who bestows such a gift. And a sense of expectation is born. Dependence, like a ventilator, takes over breathing.
Lest we walk this road in the dark, let’s remember that every time we groom a child to believe that the world revolves around him, every time we trophy for no other reason than to artificially prop self esteem, every time we promote a sense of unfairness when on the losing end of someone else’s legitimate victory/good fortune, every time we step in and save or do for rather than let them try/succeed/or fall and get back up – we are dimming the brightness of the Rights. The Rights rest and are anchored in independence. Never in dependence – the petri dish for “I’m owed.”
So, as we watch and remember the faces of mesmerized kids, oohing and ahhing with each burst of an Independence Day firework, we might need to answer a few questions.
What are we grooming? Hard work? Tenacity? Critical thinkers? Problem solvers? A generation more afraid of not trying than of failing? A generation who sees mountains as opportunities rather than obstacles?
Or are we creating generations who look to, dare we admit expect, the State to serve them. Is that really what we want?
Hmmm…. Worth considering. And maybe worth a re-read of the Declaration lest we forget. Gritty independence is a good thing. A really good thing.
Thanks for walking the road with me.