What will you be doing on Independence Day? I got my annual fireworks fix Sunday when the Naperville Country Club lit up the skies over my neighborhood.
Having already experienced bombs bursting in air for this year, I will probably not fight the crowds to get to Knoch Park.
When we built our house in the ’80s, the backyard had a reasonable view of Naperville’s annual display. Maturing landscaping has resulted in numerous obstructions. At the risk of sounding like the old curmudgeon I have become, I prefer the trees to the fireworks.
July Fourth is more, though, than fireworks, barbecuing, and beer.
Before sitting down to write this column, I took a few minutes to read the document that started it all, The Declaration of Independence. The last time I remember reading the 1,300 or so words that make up the document was in high school preparing for an American government test required for graduation.
Just as my landscaping has matured over the years, I would like to think that my mindset and outlook has matured as well. Re-reading the Declaration of Independence for myself, and not as part of an educational requirement, was a great opportunity to think about our country, community, beliefs and what we should be going forward.
One of the first things that struck me was that almost half the document is an enumeration of the specific acts and actions initiated by the British crown that forced the leaders of the 13 colonies to take action. Interestingly, some of the grievances included topics still of interest and concern today, including immigration, taxation, the judiciary, and legislative representation and action (or inaction as the case may be).
Thomas Jefferson did note within the Declaration that “governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes” and “that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
This defense of maintaining the status quo, coupled with the checks and balances within our Constitution, has seemed to work well despite the clamoring of some for immediate change.
The warning that, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security,” should be paid more credence. This is particularly relevant as reform of Illinois’ electoral system was recently short-circuited by politicians intent on maintaining their power.
So, as you pursue your unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, give some thought to the words and concepts that started it all. Most of all, heed the words that “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
As Benjamin Franklin put it before signing the Declaration, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Bob Fischer is president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Bob Fischer