I’m not a big fan of parades, but some friends invited me this year to their cookout on the parade route in tiny Egg Harbor, WI for the annual Independence Day regalia, so I gave in. It was a truly American event. Virtually every entry was a promotion for something: a politician, a restaurant, an event, a business. For me, the most obscure “float” was advertising a mini-storage facility. OK, then. Anyway, it was still fun being with the gang, and my friends made sure I was well fed.
My 4th of July Tradition:
Later on that day I did what I always do on July 4; I read the Declaration of Independence. It is a masterful document (written primarily by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 “founding fathers” in 1776), and it frames out the rationale for the Colonies’ decision to declare themselves independent from Great Britain. If you haven’t read it, please do so; it takes about five minutes. You will notice some familiar phrases such as “all men are created equal” and “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”, but sandwiched in the middle of the poetic flow are some harsh statements about the excesses which King George III had visited on the Colonies.
“Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
Infraction after infraction is listed. For example, “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” The gloves come off; the fighting words fly. The Declaration of Independence is our nation’s original necessary ending.
Prune dead branches in order to thrive.
The phrase “necessary endings” comes from psychologist Henry Cloud and his book by the same name. Knowing when to walk away, and having the courage to do so, is an important life skill. For some people, myself included, it hasn’t come naturally. The same Bible which encourages us to endure also tells us to prune dead branches so that life may indeed thrive. If you have a hard time getting to the point of saying enough is enough, you’ll find this book to be a big help. It’s been an important part of my journey.
***So have you read the Declaration of Independence? What was meaningful to you about it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.***