This weekend we celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Most of us know the opening lines, but not all realize how exceptional it truly is.
“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.”
These are extraordinary words to use to birth a new nation. America was not to be defined by shared ethnicity, common heritage, or social class, but by an ideology.
Just think about that. Our founders based an entire nation on the idea that we are all equal and have God given rights that cannot be taken away by laws created by governments. They believed it so strongly that they declared this was not even open for discussion. No polling or further explanation necessary because it was self-evident!
We have not always lived up to the promise of these words. The shortcomings, however, were not the fault of the ideology or our foundation. On the contrary, it is the very strength of the American ideology and our founding documents that enable us to make corrections within the framework of law rather than revolution.
In addition to being a statement of principles through which our Constitution should be interpreted (as believed by Abraham Lincoln), it has inspired millions throughout the world to promote personal liberty and to fight against tyranny.
It might be out of fashion to believe in American Exceptionalism, but the fact is, we are an exceptional country and we were founded on exceptional principles.
On Saturday, let’s remember the ideology embodied in our Declaration of Independence and celebrate the exceptional country we have been blessed to inherit.
Happy 4th of July and May God Bless America!