Celebrating Our Independence

As we approach the 4th of July we have every reason to celebrate. This holiday weekend may present us with a day off and an occasion for barbecues and professional fireworks displays, but it is also the 246th anniversary of a great experiment in self-government.

The independence of the United States was something new in world history. On July 4, 1776 the people of the United States set out to form a nation united not by common ancestry, or by one religion, but by the belief that they were in fact created equal. They further set out to prove that human beings are capable of governing themselves though institutions of their own design, without claiming the authority of tradition or inherited power. They trusted in their own ability  to balance conflicting interests and negotiate compromise.

In the last 246 years, the United States has endured many bitter conflicts of opinion and overcome many threats to our unity.  Today, we again face challenges to our sense of national unity and purpose, but our country has met greater challenges in the past and we have always prevailed,  emerging from our struggles with a more expansive vision of our rights and liberties.

So after the trials of the last several years, let’s use this July 4th as an opportunity to reflect on the good fortune we enjoy as the beneficiaries of that great experiment — what Lincoln called the last best hope of earth.  We will face our difficulties, as we always have, and we will be better and stronger for it.