I was inspired for our family to read aloud the Declaration of Independence this 4th of July. The inspiration came from a few different sources, including a conversation with my grandma about a trip to the Texas Capitol in the "old days." I mentioned this idea to Karl and my parents, and they were for it!
The Declaration has such out-dated language (which I hope one day the kids can understand with ease), but until then, we'll read a thought-by-thought "translation." This practice evoked deep thoughts for me, and will spark good conversations so I thought I'd share with you as well. Download for free at bottom and/or read here. Original English in blue, today's English in red italics.
Some deep thoughts in response:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident,
When you realize it’s necessary for one group of people to separate from their existing government in order to have equal standing as human beings, (which is the right of any human being whether you believe people are made by God or nature), you should show common decency by stating the reasons why you feel it necessary to separate in the first place. So before we begin governing ourselves, here are our reasons, which are true and obvious to everyone:
Some deep thoughts in response:
- The writers of the Declaration of Independence were the first "PC" people--they purposefully chose inclusive language to allow for different religious views while many of them had strong faith in God and the Bible. They had seen the destruction that came from a government who forced faith on people, so they knew it best to allow people to explore God for themselves.
- How can I help people explore God without forcing it on them?
- These men were strong in conviction, brave, and collaborative. In order to write this, they met secretly in an unventilated room for 2 weeks in the summer while wearing wool coats. They most certainly had different ideas, but they came together risking personal safety as well as comfort in order to serve humanity.
- How can I emulate this character today?
- While obviously heroes, these men weren't perfect. They had blind spots in their character. Isn't it obvious to everyone now that what was being done to the colonists, the colonists turned around and did to slaves? Heart-breaking. And there's still lingering effects of this oppression. Reading that last paragraph of the declaration while thinking about friends of a different race, I realize that they may have a different perception of this document. Some maybe even have "a long train of abuse" in their lifetime. There are many people who hold government positions who do things to increase civil liberties, and there are places where the opposite happens.
- What can I do to increase the civil liberties of others?
- There's another obvious evil going on today in our country that is in direct contrast with these unalienable rights. OBVIOUS. Yet blinded to many.
- What are my own blind spots? Am I open to learning and listening?
- Yet the writers had foresight to expect evils to arise, and therefore the framers of the constitution allowed for THE PEOPLE to make alterations. This is something to be grateful for! I am one of the people! You are one of the people! And if we choose to move forward where we're at with bravery, sacrifice, and collaboration, then we increase justice in our space.
- What if everyone replaced one social media complaint with one small act of justice in their space?