Today we celebrate the Founding of Our Nation (The United States of America for foreign readers). Today you are likely to bump into half a dozen articles attempting to articulate many reasons to not celebrate this day. Some of these will feel valid because they do make a point about this nation’s checkered history. It is doubtless that slavery is a shadow and a stain on our history. This country’s treatment of Native Americans is a similar stain. Yet I would contend that none of these things are reasons to dismiss our nation or its founding. Indeed no nation is without faults, but almost no nations can claim, as the United States can, its very founding was set upon values which would inevitably lead to increases in liberty and prosperity.
Our Founding Father’s were wise enough to see that things were not perfect and mistakes would definitely be made. A process for Amendment was necessary for the flourishing of our nation, and the fact that it’s not easy to Amend is also necessary. Our Constitution forces a very high bar of consensus for changes to be made and that makes it very hard to make changes which are not for the obvious betterment of the country and its people. Even the Three-Fifths Compromise, which can be viewed (rightly) as a dehumanization of African American slaves, can also be seen as the result of efforts from abolitionists to not make unwilling slaves arrows in the electoral quiver of their masters who would see them subjugated. The correction was already taking place from the beginning. Andrew Jackson initiated the Trail of Tears without the support of the Supreme Court. With all of this in mind, we can find that common ground that undergirds our society and, in that, be proud.
While we cook out with our families and watch fireworks in awe, I think it is most important to look to those political foes of ours with a kinder eye and understand that they also want a better America for tomorrow. We may disagree on what that looks like or what will take us there, but let us stop questioning each other’s motives and have a battle of ideas. Those on the left should know that even though our past is littered with mistakes, it is also lined with principles that allowed us to correct them in time. Those on the right should know that even though America is the greatest place for liberty and human flourishing in Earth’s history, it does not mean we can’t improve.
There is enough division in our nation. No need to point the finger at our opponents and blame them for it. Let’s start with ourselves. Are we doing all we could to foster unity in the true American Spirit? Probably not. When’s the last time you argued with a political opponent online and given them the benefit of the doubt? Did you call them stupid? None of this is to condemn, but to highlight the areas of our rhetoric in which we can improve.
I’m sure we all believe in rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If we can start there, then perhaps we can renew our commitment to mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.