Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it. 

(Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 26 April 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/)

Make good use of it, indeed. I hope this has been a joyous Independence Day for you!

 

Ellen writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. 

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Today we celebrate the birth of our nation and our own independence at a time when the enemies of both are feverishly active in our republic.  For 242 years our nation has been a beacon lighting the way for all the peoples of this blue planet.  The appearance of our republic has been imitated, but its substance has never duplicated.  Many nation have constitutions, most aren’t worth the parchment they are written on.  Only one other nation holds that its peoples happiness is an important goal.  That is just an obvious difference that you can share with children before tonight’s fireworks.

The core of our republic is that from its founding the primary focus has been on the individual, most other nations focus on groups and group interests.  When our republic has been at its best we have stood up for the individual, when we have been at our worst we have treated people only as a member of a group.   Our crowning achievement is that we welcome new members into our republic and advance together better than any other any other group on earth. That is the “how” of Americas greatness.  The “why” goes back to the pursuit of happiness.

Happiness is an intensely personal concept and a mercurial goal.  We have it as a foundation of our republic.  This more than anything else has inspired people to come here and be a part of the grand experiment.  The pursuit of  happiness is at the same time selfish and noble.  The pursuit of happiness motivates people to try new things and create what has only been dreamed of  before.   The pursuit of happiness brought us to the moon.  It is the power that energizes our economy.  It is what keeps us together, and it can make us move apart.

Since individuals are the focus of our republic, it is true that only individuals can be its saviors.  But it take an individual able to bare up under the burden of that individuality.

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about
to preserve their reputation and social standing,
never can bring about a reform.  Those who are really
in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing
in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately,
in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised
and persecuted ideas and their advocates,
and bear the consequences…”

– Susan B Anthony​​​​​​​ (1820-1906)

As many times before our republic needs men and women to express the individuality and pursue happiness to defend our republic.  It can’t be done by people that have given up on being happy, but by those that are actively pursuing happiness because they want more.  It doesn’t take 51% of us, but just a few people.  I have ever confidence that there are more than enough of us here now.  Here and there stepping up when it is easier to step back.  Easy isn’t happy.   Which is why easy isn’t in our founding documents or our national character.

Happy Independence Day to all of you, and every one you love, and all Americans everywhere!

Respectfully,
Matt O’Brien
President:  Worcester Tea Party

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P.S.
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Every Fourth of July I read and reflect on the Declaration of Independence.  It is something I believe every one of us should do before heading out to our barbecues, fireworks, and beaches.  Unfortunately this most remarkable and influential document has fallen into such disfavor by modern academia and a certain segment of our political spectrum.  I’m not sure what percentage of high schools and colleges teach about this document in a positive and true light.  I think I would be saddened and angered if I found out the truth.

The Declaration of Independence called the United States into being and established the principal philosophies that were meant to serve as the bedrock that this country was built on.   The Constitution was written to ensure that those principal philosophies would remain the bedrock of this nation.

By invoking “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” in the opening sentence, Thomas Jefferson is stating quite emphatically that Natural Law was meant to be the cornerstone the United States will be built on.  The concept of Natural Law did not originate with Thomas Jefferson.  It can be traced back to Marcus Cicero around 100 BC and even to Ancient Israel.  John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, which was entirely about Natural Law, most heavily influenced Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence.  After reading the Two Treatises and the Declaration it will be clear that all the themes of the Declaration were derived from Natural Law.

Individual God-given Natural Rights are one of the most important components of Natural Law.  The denial and abuse of these rights by England was the justification for our declaring independence.  The fact that each and every individual is “endowed by their Creator” with rights and that these rights are “unalienable” is the single most important concept contained in the Declaration.  This is far superior to all of the collectivist philosophies that most of the world’s population has lived under.  Every single individual is the most important person in the United States and the government cannot violate the rights of any individual without breaking God’s law.

Every individual has the same worth in the eyes of God.  That is the meaning of the statement “all men are created equal.”   All laws must apply equally to everyone, no matter who they are.  In direct contrast to socialism, all individuals under Natural Law are not entitled to equal things.  To ensure all have equal things governments must forcibly confiscate the property of some individuals and give it to others.  No one has a right to take the property of another without consent, especially the government.  Every individual has the right to pursue whatever makes them happy, but they must grab hold of it themselves.

Liberty is another crucial concept from Natural Law that is featured in the Declaration of Independence.  It is a concept that so few understand today, thanks to our abysmal educational system.  Most confuse the definition of liberty with the definition of freedom, which I encountered in this online definition.  They are related but not identical.  Liberty is the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt others or interfere with the rights of others.  It is freedom with responsibility.    What happens if you hurt others or interfere with the rights of others under our constitutional system of government?  Then the government at the appropriate level must restrain you to prevent you from continuing this behavior and the government must punish you to make sure you do not do it again.  What happens if you do not hurt others or interfere with others?  Under the constitutional system of this country, as it was originally intended, the government, at all levels, must leave you alone to live your life as you choose.  That is true for every individual.  Are we still free to live our lives as we choose in this country?  Sadly government at all levels is determined to micromanage our lives, leaving us all far from free to live our lives as we choose.

by baldilocks

With it being Independence Day and all, on my Facebook page, I’ve mostly been posting videos of people singing pleasantly sonorous versions of the Star-Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs. On my page, there’s a mariachi band singing a fantastic version of the SSB, a Christian “boy-band” harmony foursome doing a medley of songs and, of course, Ray Charles’ iconic rendition of America, the Beautiful—this one from a 1972 episode of the Dick Cavett Show. Lady Gaga also did a wonderfully understated version of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl a few years back, showing us—surprisingly–that she understands something that many female singers of the Anthem do not: less is more and better.

And then there’s the standard against which all versions of the Anthem are measured: Whitney Houston. Her appearance at the opening of the 1991 Super Bowl is still a tear-jerker.

Houston died a few years back of a drug-overdose and it has almost become her legacy, but not quite. The voice and showmanship of the young Houston and the flawless performance of the Anthem were too powerful to be totally over-shadowed.

What goes less remarked upon about Houston are her other renditions of patriotic songs and her performances for the troops. And when I looked it up on YouTube, I found that there was, arguably, an even better performance of the Anthem by her—this one was for the Navy. In it she is still young, slim, beautiful and in perfect voice, albeit in a lower key than in the Super Bowl performance. It’s very emotion-invoking, especially when you know the outcome of Houston’s story–and that of her daughter.

So, I choose to remember Whitney Houston as the American icon who put the love and feeling back into our National Anthem. As the foibles and tragedy of her life fade away, she should always be remembered for that.

Happy Independence Day, my friends.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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