2016-06-29 / Editorials

‘America Was Created By Philosophy’

Here comes summer – time for vacations, picnics, street fairs, carnivals and festivals, and the beach. And the season is rung in as always, with a bang – literally. Fireworks displays will cap a weekend of parades and sales that mark the 4th of July. Somewhere in here, some lip service will typically be paid to the fact that the day marks the 240th anniversary of the occasion when a group of determined individuals told an overbearing colonialist power that they were no longer an appendage to be exploited.

It might well be inconceivable for us, 240 years later, to grasp the enormity of the step the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were taking. When they pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to the cause of independence from Great Britain, they meant every word, and they acted in full awareness of the consequences. If the colonists had lost the War of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the rest of our Founding Fathers would have been hanged as traitors, their lands and money forfeited, dooming their descendants as well. Far from being revered, their memory would be reviled, if not ignored altogether. The hit shows, “Hamilton” or “1776” would not have ever existed, let alone have won a slew of Tony awards.

Nor were all colonists supporters of independence from the old country. Fortunately, enough people supported the cause to stun the world with a victory that resulted in the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy,” as was said by the late Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher is a quote we like to keep in mind. It points to the fact that the United States is at the cutting edge of evolution, contrary to some regressive indications. Progress does not move in a straight line.

Since Americans tend to lack a common ethnic or linguistic heritage, we have constructed one based upon common philosophy and values. Kindness, candor, creativity and courage are at the very heart of the American character – both via the documents that forged the nation, and by the people that fight to protect those same values today.

Unfettered by thousands of years of history and tradition, the United States is unique in its recreation of itself, and moreover, its dedication to unified progress to a better, brighter future. We have remade ourselves a thousand times over and we will do it a thousand times more, because our great virtue as a country is our willingness to change for the better. We are not perfect, but that great truth stands – we are able to see our pitfalls and shortcomings, own up to them with fortitude, and try to change them as one.

There is always a good reason to celebrate the 4th of July – whether it be friends, family, or even just good food, but this year, we can also think of the particular American characteristic of resilience and adaptability.

Many people are clamoring for change, but along with the clamor, we need thought, and knowledge. Knowledge of history is a good start, knowledge of what has worked before, or what has failed – and why – and knowledge of how the rest of the world we are a part of is evolving. We hope we are not preaching to the choir. But if we are, we do ask that each person make efforts to get another involved – discuss peacefully what is happening in the country and the world. And we also ask that each person, try to walk in the “other side’s” shoes in good faith, at least occasionally. It cannot hurt to give an open minded hearing to the opposite viewpoint to our own treasured agendas, should we have any.

We extend congratulations to our countrymen for our continued democracy, this grand experiment of 240 years and counting, to keep it strong for future generations. Also, our wishes to you for a safe and enjoyable holiday and summer: Happy Independence Day 2016!

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