I am a patriot. Today I honor the decision 236 years ago to declare independence from Great Britain. Like my fellow citizens I will celebrate with fireworks and barbecue and a parade, and my eyes will well with proud tears at the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Ours is a powerful and proud country. We have a history of faith in divine providence and a firm belief that we have a destiny to lead the world. But we also are kind and generous and have a tradition of aiding those who need our help, both individually and nationally.
Which is why I am so saddened by the current state of our political discourse. In the Declaration of Independence our forefathers stated "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" as they set forth to "institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect [the] Safety and Happiness" of the American people.
Today, instead of working together toward the greater good our politicians snipe and cut at each other, standing more on soundbites than principles. Above it all, wealthy people and corporations collect more money and more power, leaving the poor behind. We seem to have lost sight of the lofty ideals which have given our country such strength and endurance.
I have friends and family who like to tell me that the United States is a Christian country. I could dispute that, but instead I'd like to remind them of Leviticus 19:9-10: “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger.”
On the anniversary of the launch of this great experiment, I pray that we, as a united people, remember the spirit in which our country was founded – that the government is a tool for securing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.