Monday, July 4, 2016

When in the course ...

Two hundred and forty years ago, some guys signed a piece of paper in Philadelphia saying that they were declaring themselves no longer colonies of England, but an independent nation. Thirteen years later, they figured out what the legal foundation of that nation should be, which occasion was marked, of course, by signing another piece of paper.

So every year, Americans celebrate July 4th as the country's birthday. That's all fine and cool. These guys were lucky enough to have started this country during the so-called “Age of Enlightenment.” There was a growing acceptance of the idea that power should not just be in the hands of families that had been selected by God, but that any white male of European ancestry was born with certain rights.

And as it turned out, the U.S.A. is a pretty good country. Of course, over the centuries, a few other countries have caught on to the whole “of the people, by the people and for the people” thing, but that's all good. That means enlightened democracy is spreading as a concept.

There's a lot more we can do. A glance at any newspaper or news broadcast today reveals lingering problems of racism, wealth and income inequality, cultural factionalism, international insecurity, economic instability and so on and so on. But still, we're pretty good.

So happy birthday, America. Many happy returns.

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