We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Today is the Fourth of July. It’s a day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence.
I’d like to. But something won’t let me. At least not fully.
I start my Sunday blog piece on Mondays. This past Monday it started like this: Today is the Fourth of July. Let’s celebrate.
I stopped. I wasn’t feelin’ it. I wasn’t feelin’ any joy. I wasn’t sure why. I just wasn’t.
On Tuesday I started again. Today is the Fourth of July. Let’s celebrate.
I stopped. I still wasn’t feelin’ it.
On Wednesday it happened again. So I called a time-out for myself.
I took a walk. I sat on a stump, tapped my foot, and scratched my head.
And then, at last, I figured it out. I saw through the cloud of gloom.
The week before, a friend had sent me Frederick Douglass’s speech commemorating the Declaration of Independence in Rochester’s Corinthian Hall on July 5, 1852.
The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.
I had seen that years ago. At that time it blindsided me because I hadn’t seen that truth before: The independence declared in 1776 was for certain people, not all people. “We the people” doesn’t necessarily mean “all the people.” And to think, for most of my life I thought it did.
This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.
I was awakened from my dogmatic slumbers. But, alas, I dozed off again.
But not this time. Not after Breonna Taylor. Not after George Floyd. Not after voter suppression maneuvers in Congress.
You may rejoice, I must mourn.
It was true then and it’s still true today.
Today is the Fourth of July. Yes, it’s a time to rejoice. But it’s also a time to mourn.
For there’s another self-evident truth: We do not treat each other as equals.
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See Paula’s photo new montage on the home page. Posted June 20.