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.
I read the Declaration of Independence out loud to my kids every Fourth of July. Well, this year I texted my son at college to remind him to read it himself, given the time difference- but I read it to my daughter as is our tradition.
It will shock no one who knows me that I also continued the tradition of getting teary eyed as I read it.
I am always struck anew that ours was the first government in history founded solely on an idea. Think about that. I mean, really THINK about it.
That’s why it is so terribly upsetting when we fall short of upholding what we set out to do. That’s why it is completely intolerable when we fall prey to ignorance and prejudice, and when those moral Achilles’ heels attempt to deny a group of people one of the fundamental, unalienable rights that this document- which I consider to be sacred- is intended to guarantee us.
These past few weeks have been interesting for our country. What is that ancient Chinese curse? May you live in interesting times? I have, recently, felt complete despair at the state of things and our lack of progress, and absolute joy and hope at how far we have come.
That is the push/pull of this beautiful, maddening, YOUNG country of ours. The United States is still a young country. It helps me to remember that. We’re still boneheaded the way only a teenager can be. We think we know everything, and we have SO FREAKING MUCH to still learn. That’s okay.
We inched closer to who we were meant to be this past week. The Supreme Court stopped denying same sex couples the right to pursue happiness by getting married. They didn’t GRANT them that right- they always had it. We just decided to honor our promise, is all. As our President said, our union “became a little more perfect.”
I’m going to think about that, today. And I am going to think about widening my circles, and what I need to do to help this country live up to its promise.
I’ll close with one of my favorite passages from my favorite book of all time, A Prayer for Owen Meany:”IT HAS TO DO WITH ALL OF
“IT HAS TO DO WITH ALL OF US,” said Owen Meany, when I called him that night. “SHE WAS JUST LIKE OUR WHOLE COUNTRY—NOT QUITE YOUNG ANYMORE, NOT BUT OLD EITHER; A LITTLE BREATHLESS, VERY BEAUTIFUL, MAYBE A LITTLE STUPID, MAYBE A LOT SMARTER THAN SHE SEEMED. AND SHE WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING—I THINK SHE WANTED TO BE GOOD. LOOK AT THE MEN IN HER LIFE—JOE DIMAGGIO, ARTHUR MILLER, MAYBE THE KENNEDYS. LOOK AT HOW GOOD THEY SEEM! LOOK AT HOW DESIRABLE SHE WAS! THAT’S WHAT SHE WAS: SHE WAS DESIRABLE. SHE WAS FUNNY AND SEXY—AND SHE WAS VULNERABLE, TOO. SHE WAS NEVER QUITE HAPPY, SHE WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE OVERWEIGHT. SHE WAS JUST LIKE OUR WHOLE COUNTRY,” he repeated;”
I think we want to be good. Let’s try harder, sweet friends. Happy Independence Day.