Happy Independence Day! And while we DO realize this holiday is not celebrated worldwide, we did want to take advantage of this opportunity to use it as a handy springboard.
Here, in the United States, at some point in school nearly every child must face those dreaded “memorization” assignments. YOU remember the ones: the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, and yes, the Declaration of Independence… which we celebrate today.
However, what truly marked a “revolution” was the specificity of that language, drafted almost 250 years ago:
“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.”
Many categorically state this one phrase could be “THE most important sentence in history.” Of course, for most students, the very second we completed that assignment, those words we committed to memory got mentally filed away and have continued to gather dust in the years since. So on this Fourth of July, take just one minute to honestly consider the weight behind those words.
Imagine it… a GOVERNMENT formed because its leaders actually CARED about something as intangible as their people’s “happiness!” What government does THAT?!? All those guys, in powdered wigs and waistcoats, sitting around talking about the idea of “happiness”…and the fact people should not only strive for it, but are ENTITLED to it!
Sadly, in the passing centuries, we have come to take those words and ideas for granted. Yes, even the kids who study it today just kind of gloss right over their depth – glass-eyed, staring blankly ahead, just parroting the words in a dry monotone. C’mon, doesn’t that sound just a little bit familiar?
Sheltered in the comfort of our homes, safely commuting to-and-from work or school, planning our futures, just living our lives, we rarely – if ever – give a thought to those ideas of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Probably because we ARE living as we want, pursuing our own ideals of happiness, as a free people… something definitely worth celebrating!
So as you enjoy the fireworks, days at the beach, good food and friends by your side, how about starting a brand new Independence Day tradition? On Thanksgiving, many take a moment to say something they are thankful for in their lives. How about a Fourth of July tradition, where you go around the group and just share ONE thing that brings you “happiness” – or even take it a step further and talk about what “freedom” or “liberty” means in your life, personally!
Think of it as “giving thanks for our independence.” Trust me, MILLIONS of people around the world would literally jump at the chance – and have! Oppressed peoples risk life-and-limb for a taste of freedom. Enslaved children can only dream of playing outside freely. Refugees long for a home – any home – free from threats, danger and death. Kind of puts our concerns into perspective, right?
We need to treasure our independence, for the jewel it is. Appreciate what we’ve got… especially when compared to so many others who share our world. For those people, TRULY celebrate and note your independence today. And tomorrow, if you want to join us at King’s Ransom Foundation, to strike a blow for freedom elsewhere, we welcome you to our idea of “happiness” – helping others!