As we continue to dissect and debate the words and spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on the eve of the 246th signing of the Declaration of Independence, I have thought about what this means to me as a citizen of this country and as an individual. Many of the words written in the Declaration of Independence certainly sound good on paper, but the fact is that those unalienable rights and the notion of being created equal were not extended to everyone in this country. It is somewhat astonishing that 246 years later, the debate about rights and equality continues, but here we are.
Like any declaration, the Declaration of Independence was only the beginning of change, not the end. It’s one thing to say that we are going to do something, and it is a whole other thing to actually do it. Therein lies the problem with declarations, perhaps even the one that the founding fathers wrote. Once we declare something, we need to be able to back up our words with specific actions. Then, once we decide what the next best steps are needed to support the declaration, we still need to regularly revisit our words and actions to make sure that they are aligned. Even then, our work is not finished.
Making a declaration and implementing action steps to bring it to life require ongoing evaluation. We need to revisit our words and actions to determine what is working and what is not working and adjust accordingly. Too often, we commit to something and go full steam ahead, even in the face of evidence that shows us that we need to alter our course of action. This feels like an appropriate time for us to reflect on what we can declare independence from to support equality and rights for all, which I fully understand is a monumental, but not impossible, task. At least, I want to believe that it is still possible.
We can declare our independence from the thoughts, feelings, and actions that do not serve others, including ourselves, well. Ignorance. Greed. Intolerance. Hatred. Divisiveness. Apathy. Complacency. Whatever it is that holds another person down and holds us back needs to be dismantled and discarded. It starts with our declarations and ends with our actions.
Changes, especially those on a large scale, can feel overwhelming to the point of being paralyzing. So, start small to create a ripple effect of change, but just start somewhere. Vote. Invest your time, money, resources, and skills to support organizations and causes that make a positive difference. Strike up a conversation with the internet to learn and understand life through someone else’s eyes. Practice self-compassion and radical self-care.
Even after 246 years, we are still trying to get this right, and maybe, we never will. I don’t know, but I do know that our work is ongoing. So, onward we go.
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story