Those who cannot remember the past…
Many educated in the United States are familiar with the following words:
“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.” – Declaration of Independence
Today, July 4, 2020 marks the 244th birthday of the United States as an independent nation from Great Britain. United States citizens have traditionally celebrated this day, Independence Day, with fireworks, parades, concerts, picnics and barbecues. You’ll also likely see decorations in red, white, and blue.
But what happened that the 13 original U.S. colonies sought and fought for independence? Author and journalist Patrick J. Kiger notes seven events that led to the American Revolution:
- The Stamp Act (March 1765);
- The Townshend Acts (June-July 1767);
- The Boston Massacre (March 1770);
- The Boston Tea Party (December 1773);
- The Coercive Acts (March-June 1774);
- Lexington and Concord (April 1775), beginning the Revolutionary War; and
- British attacks on coastal towns (October 1775-January 1776)
In the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, representatives of the 13 U.S. colonies noted 27 grievances against unjust policies of British imperialism. War between Great Britain and the colonies ensued for the next seven years, with the unlikely colonists defeating the great British army. Of great import is that the colonists did not fight alone, as Spain, the Netherlands and France assisted in this war for freedom, a great cause worth giving one’s life for. But victory came at a great human cost.
Fast forward to our present day. Are we not in a similar situation? Does not an unjust system of racism deeply embedded in our culture provide for some but not for all? In “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” can we say that all are free? Not strictly financially, what has been the human cost of the war on racism, both in lives and dignity on all sides? Consider these words by philosopher and writer George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
What have we learned from the wars in our individual and collective pasts? What are we learning now? Have we been paying attention? Are we open to discern principles right and true and do what we can to ensure that we live by them? What is worth fighting for? What has/will it cost? Have we given anything to it? What more are we willing to give?