By Ken Stern 

From the editor -- Free, independent and together

 


Yesterday was July 4th, the 247th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, the colonies splitting from the most powerful country on the planet.

Read again the Declaration of Independence. Start at the beginning. What did the colonies declare?

First, it was a “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”

Second, it was a statement from “one people.”

Third, they held “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.”

Fourth, they “derived their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

What does that total to?

North and south, colonists agreed unanimously, all of us, to a statement from “one people.”

They declared “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.”


Pause here. Who in 2023 will defend that “all men” meant only white property owners? All the signers were. No one else was at the table in 1776, not the propertyless, not Blacks, later counted as three fifths a person each, not Indians and certainly not women.

Today the melting pot of America is an alphabet soup of genders and identities in our communities and in our families, whether we recognize some of us or not or try to outlaw and delegitimize some of us.

If a faction of us only supports legislatures or courts when their decisions move favored political agendas forward, then we fail to be a nation of laws. Instead we devolve into unaffiliated tribes with no universal spine holding all of us up because some reject the universality of agreeing to both play by and obey the rules of governance.


It is hard to realize that every moment, and not just every time we vote, we are choosing the world we want to – and are indeed – living in.

As a word, democracy is a noun. In life, democracy is an ongoing process, not a finished product. Democracy is messy, frustrating and not complete when either a meeting, a campaign or an election has ended. Elections take the pulse of the community or country. They are a part of a much larger structure.

Now, divided into the red tribe and the blue tribes, Republicans and Democrats, we are split, less than the whole, not united communities, much less a country of united states.


European expansion in North America succeeded in part because Europeans pitted Native tribes against each other. Now the term “tribes” is commonly used to describe Americans divided among ourselves. Neither the global COVID-19 pandemic nor the existential threat of climate change is bringing our society together. There is trust among factions but not trust in the system, in the rule of law and in the United States.

Lacking trust, solid common ground crumbles. Without trust it is difficult to agree. as the Declaration’s signers did below the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence:

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”


 

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