I usually do not write anything for Sundays but this Sunday is a special day. On the 4th of July, I think about the beginning of my United States of America. I wonder about the level of oppression that drove our forefathers to revolt against the rule of England. In history books and lectures, it never seemed all that oppressive to me. Sure, at some level it was. But most of the colonists lived outside the cities and should have had little contact with British authority. So, as I see it, the American Revolution stated in the cities and revolved around British intrusion into free trade.
Yet it spread far and wide. It did not happen overnight, of course, the fire of revolution smoldered for decades before erupting. But erupt it did. And though some may disagree, it turned out to be a good thing for the world. The concept of self rule did not originate in what became the USA but it grew here like it never had in the past anywhere else. And it was a true effort to make the citizens the source of political power. Yes, there was slavery and the First Americans were not viewed as part of the nation, and in most new states women were denied the right to vote.
All of that changed, we evolved as a society and a culture. Like all evolution, it took time and was painful. A civil war was needed to bring about an end to slavery. We spread west and, yes, pushed the First Americans into smaller and smaller territory. We took land by force, bought some from other countries and forced at least one to sell at gunpoint. And eventually spanned from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
But there are few nations in the world who do not have pasts of conquest and expansion. I think we tend to forget that. We grow up here being taught about a land of individual freedom and justice for all and find it isn't quite that. Not yet. We are still evolving, still growing, still trying to attain the goals set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
And we've backslid. A lot. We've failed to deliver on the promises made. But we haven't stopped trying. We haven't failed yet.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago