02 July 2009

The 4th

Sometimes I wish the 4th of July and Thanksgiving were closer in time, because I think conceptually they belong together. It's easy to forget, amidst all of the hoopla and celebration, how unusual is our situation in the United States. Having read a bit of history, I have never lost my amazement at the collective genius of our country's Founders, and it's crystal clear to me that they were indeed inspired, as the Doctrine & Covenants says, to design a system of civil government virtually unique in all of human history with its separation of powers and focus on preserving liberty. A place with, I think, the best chance for someone like Joseph Smith to do what he did. A place whose national identity requires it to aspire relentlessly to be better and do better, and which welcomes anyone who shares the vision. Which welcomes discussion and respectful disagreement as part of the dialogue, because our country is still very much a living, ongoing experiment in whether the Founders' ideas can work and be preserved, and where we believe, as Joseph Smith said, that "by contraries is truth made manifest." We are blessed to live in a place where that can be done peacefully and safely, without fear of government reprisal. It's easy to forget how comparatively rare that is in history.

For all of that I am very grateful, and as the fireworks go off each year, I remember that quote from John Adams when the Declaration was signed, when he said that day should properly be celebrated with fireworks and parties and celebrations because of what it meant for his and future generations. We're now well over two centuries past their time, and in an era which seems to emphasize the importance of our history perhaps less than past generations did. That makes me sad, because the Founders were remarkable, heroic men. Not without flaws of course, and in many ways just as cunning a set of politicians as any we see today, but together they had remarkable intelligence, wit, and vision. They and their families made amazing sacrifices for our benefit. So on the 4th of July I try to remember that and to honor them for it, and to teach my family about these amazing men and how lucky we are to be their beneficiaries, the heirs of their vision.


Ezra said...

It truly is a remarkable country.

"Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it."

--Mark Twain

Bravone said...

I love the 4th. It is my mom's favorite holiday and she has passed it on to me and my kids. I am so grateful for this country. We are so blessed!

Happy 4th Alan!