Today is the day in which we commemorate the signing of our Declaration of Independence, the birth certificate of a new nation, one based upon the politically revolutionary ideal that a society should be established in order to provide for the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all men (and thanks to years of further political struggle, for those rights to be officially extended to *all* people, regardless of race, color or creed).
It is also a day that amidst the fun cookouts, good friends and family, and fireworks, we should take a moment to reflect upon the ideas and intentions our nation’s Founders, people who risked everything in order to establish the republic for which still stands today, and for which we stand for when we stand for the liberty and justice of *all*, and not just some.
Some of the most important principles that so many of our founding patriotic revolutionaries were envisioning and fighting for, was a new kind of society, one that was effectively devoid of artificial social distinctions, and which royalty and nobility would be banished. It would be a society that would produce citizens who were “industrious, sober, frugal” (John Adams) and ambitious to serve their brethren.
Government would exist for the purpose of securing the happiness of the people…not the purpose of serving the narrow interests of one class, or to promote a narrow ruling elite. It would be a society in which a representative government would legislate for it, and levy taxes upon itself, and ensure that their tax monies were not “wasted among the venal and corrupt” (as Thomas Jefferson stated). It would be a society that John Adams envisioned would be where it’s citizens – and none more so than it’s wealthiest citizens – embraced the idea of patriotism and selflessness, rejecting selfish interests in pursuit of a unitary common good.
It is this revolutionary spirit that we would be well served to keep alive and hold to as our “North Star of principle” (to use a term of American Founder Thomas Paine, author of America’s revolutionary document “Common Sense,” the blueprint for the Declaration of Independence, and the man who gave us the name “United States of America”). After all, as writer, journalist and commentator Bill Moyers once noted, the American Revolution was if anything a rebellion against the idea of government as a tool to confer privilege on insiders.
Here’s to keeping that American spirit of rebellion against corruption and injustice alive and well, and returning to our governance the principles of patriotic selflessness which made our nation possible in the first place.