A happy 4th of July to those who celebrate it. Admittedly, I am not that jingoistic about it for numerous reasons. First, fireworks tend to bore me. Seen four, you have seen them all. Secondly, after being in Boston for the 4th of July, every other celebration pales in comparison. And third, despite the rhetoric and myths, American Independence guaranteed the enslavement, disenfranchisement, and disenfranchisement of millions of Americans. It creates a strange feeling, never better expressed than by Frederick Douglass (see the great James Earl Jones’ reading of the Douglass speech here).
But, today I did what I do every 4th of July. I pulled out Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece, The Declaration of Independence. Yes, there is a certain hypocrisy about a wealthy slaveholder, who never really held a job outside of politics, comparing the conditions of he and his contemporaries to enslavement. In reading Jefferson’s letters and other writings, we see that he was aware of the hypocrisy. And yet, he knew enough to write those great enlightenment principles that would (or should have) serve as the guiding principles of the nation. He provided the ammunition that abolitionists, women’s suffrage advocates, Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights leaders would use to hold up a mirror to America and say, “Do you believe this ? Or Do you only believe this for certain people?” With that famous prose, he provided artful heart to the concept. A statement of principle that he hoped would outlive him; not the right to revolution, but the perpetual quest for liberty and recognizing the dignity of man. He knew he was on the world stage for a limited time and hoped that future generations would advance the cause. That is worth an annual read and a toast with a great American beverage. Enjoy.
We get back to more wrestling and the law soon.