On July 4, my husband and I went to the YMCA to do our daily exercise. (Yes, even on the holiday!)
Anyway, they’ve got new treadmills–ones that have a little TV that you can watch while you’re walking. I was channel surfing, and when I came to the History Channel, they were doing a special on the Declaration of Independence that looked interesting, so I decided to watch that.
One of the statements that really caught my attention–and it was something I had known before, but somehow it made more impact this time–was that when one of the signers (I think it was John Adams) talked about hanging together or they would all hang separately, it was more than just a figure of speech. By signing the Declaration, they had each committed treason and if they were caught by the British, they could each expect to literally hang from a tree. And yet, they felt so strongly in what they believed that they went ahead and signed anyway.
At the same time, there were also inner struggles. While the Declaration of Independence called for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all, “all” didn’t really mean all…not then. And it’s still something we struggle with.
But as I was watching, it really came home to me that what our founding fathers went through truly is something to honor. Yes, some of their decisions were not wise (in hindsight)…and left us with continuing challenges. And yes, you can argue that they were advocating treason.
Yet they felt so strongly that there is a right way to live–a way that all can be involved in government–that they were willing to literally give their lives to make it happen. If I had been living then, I honestly don’t know what my response would have been. Would I have encouraged my family to support independence? or stood fast to the connection with England?
Independence Day is a reminder to me that we each have decisions to make every day. Most of them are not life-threatening…but each one challenges me to think about the reason I make them. Because it’s easy? or because I believe that what I am doing would be worth giving my life for?