A Declaration About America's Founding
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The World's Super-Power Began With People, Not Government
by Michael D. Hume, M.S.
Today, Colonel Wife and I will be hosting our annual Fourth of July Block Party out in the front yard. We've been killing ourselves getting the place spruced up (imagine inviting all your friends and family, and everyone in your 300-home neighborhood, into your garage), like we have each summer for the past dozen-plus years... and now, we're ready. Come on over!
There will be free food and beverages. A few years ago, the neighbors insisted we put out a jar for donations; but we don't expect to cover our costs (not even half). We'll also hire professional entertainers to cover all five hours from noon to 5 p.m., and end the whole thing before the rains move in (and before folks want to go somewhere to watch fireworks). Since the holiday falls on a Wednesday this year (and isn't attached to a weekend), folks will be less likely to be out-of-town... so we'll probably have about two hundred guests join us on the lawn. And, like every year, we will do everything we can to maintain a "politics-free zone" at the block party.
But I am going to read the Declaration of Independence, and make a few (hopefully) inspiring remarks.
Our annual Independence Day block party is the epitome of "polite company." And they say the two things you don't talk about in polite company are religion and politics. So I won't talk about those things. But I do intend to say a word or two about God and America. Our neighborhood, like our nation, is probably pretty divided these days. We have different views on religion and politics, just as we see God and America differently. But I think everyone who will be in attendance at our block party will be a believer in both. So I'm not going to shy away from bringing them up.
The Fourth of July is a holiday to celebrate the founding of America. And while it marks the day our Declaration of Independence was ceremoniously signed and published, I have concluded that America was not, in fact, founded on July 4, 1776. That's the day our government was founded, as a natural next step in the long and ongoing journey of our nation's founding.
I mean, read again the opening words of the Declaration: "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." Now, does that sound like the beginning of the journey? Not at all. It was just one day "in the course of human events" here in America.
I hold that America was really founded by the people who took great risk and suffered a dangerous and scary sea voyage to arrive in Jamestown and Plymouth, generations before the Declaration of Independence was written. They came here seeking to remove the barriers to their economic success, certainly, but mostly to escape what they saw as barriers between them and their worship of God. Would they have suffered the voyage - which would have felt as risky to them as a colonization of Mars might feel to you - for money? I doubt it. No, it was about being closer to God. Only God would've inspired such a bold venture.
The "Founding Fathers" of the eighteenth century - the men who pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to sign the Declaration of Independence - did a great job on their part of the founding of America. They took great risk to oppose the British, too. But even those among them who went on to create our Constitution didn't decide what America was to be all about - they merely understood, and understood well, what America had always been about. And then they codified it, declared it, and took up arms to defend it.
The whole idea behind America is to put as little as possible between you and God. What you do with that freedom from worldly government is up to you. How much your efforts are blessed is up to God. And whether or not this grand experiment in liberty can continue to bring strength and prosperity not just to America, but to the world she leads, is up to all of us. Each generation that understands what America is really all about is a generation of Founding Brothers and Sisters.
So what really matters on this Independence Day is not how you worship, and not how you vote. It's how you appreciate your freedom to do both, here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The brave from all our past centuries, from those who braved the Atlantic to those who brave the adversities of our time, have paid a price for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Michael D. Hume, M.S., is the most world-famous executive coach you've never heard of. Working behind the scenes, Michael helps the world's best-and-brightest business minds create to their potential and live healthier, more fulfilling lives. His work may be found at http://michaelhume.net
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