Though this year’s celebration of the Fourth of July may be muted, we should not forget to honor the values and ideals that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and helped build the foundation of the United States of America.
“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.”
These lines from the Declaration were groundbreaking in 1776 and a potent reminder today of what we often lose sight of, that we are equal, we have rights, and the government, since it is a man-made structure, should be changed when it is not working any longer. Getting rid of a king was no small feat in those days, and it is well-known that the Revolution tore families apart, setting brother against brother, and it is understandable because most people fear change. Wouldn’t it have been easier to keep things the way they were instead of embarking on some experiment, bringing people together to fight for liberty? Did anyone even understand the concept of equality and liberty at the time when it was legal for people to own other people as property?
And still, human nature is constant – after our basic needs are met, we can ponder philosophical questions, but at the end of the day, we should probably ask ourselves if we really value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all? Not just for those men with their powdered wigs signing a document with a quill, but for all human beings.
We are always proud whenever we hear about members of the Greek community who have achieved the American Dream, because the values of education and hard work are ingrained from a young age. How much greater would it be if everyone had the opportunity to achieve their dreams?
While we often associate rugged individualism with America, it seems clear that nobody makes it here on their own. Everyone at some point was inspired by someone else, was given an opportunity, even if it was a negative experience, having a door slammed in your face with the right perspective can turn into a positive, as the expression says, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”
The strong values, faith, education, hard work, build character, so that when we find ourselves challenged by circumstances, we don’t give up, we find a way to make our dreams come true.
We are lucky to live in a country that inspires so many people to want to be here and be a part of the American dream. It is my hope that we are not taking all the rights and privileges we have here for granted. If anything, we should be inspired to be better and do better every day.
Happy Fourth of July!