Happy Birthday United States of America

I’m glad I get to live in the United States of America.

I started reading the Declaration of Independence every year on America’s birthday a while ago and just read it again. The famous line that always gives me chills when I read it is:

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.

I believe that all men and women are created equal, but it took our country until 1920 to acknowledge this for women. And then it took until 1964, the year before I was born, to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. And same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015. It took a while, but we have, and continue to make, progress as a country, and a species.

As we enter what most expect will be a very contentious, hostile, and nasty election cycle, I encourage everyone to remember that ultimately we are all on the same team. I think one of the brilliant parts of our democracy is how resilient it is. We are each allowed to have our own beliefs and, as long as we follow the rule of law, we can express them however we’d like. This is a unique characteristic of the best democracies and one I value tremendously.

I expect that over the next 40 years it’s going to get more, rather than less, complicated. We are currently in the middle of a confusing debate around gender identification which was presented in an easy to consume way in the New York Times Magazine article over the weekend titled The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes. We are beginning to talk about the idea of enhanced humans, and whether they should have the same rights as the un-enhanced. And, our fears of the coming AI Apocalypse are making headlines on a periodic basis.

I’d like to believe that in America, we’ll continue to be at the forefront of human society as we work through these issues. We have been since 1776 and I hope that continues at least until 2076. Happy birthday America.

Also published on Medium.

  • I has proven to be much easier for people to ‘get along’ when things are going well. The US has had a great run as the first large nation to have an industrial revolution, being also blessed with enormous natural resources. The true resilience of our democracy will be tested as our global economic hegemony continues to erode putting pressure on those at home. The principles on which the US was founded were indeed laudable. Let’s see if we can continue to live up to them when things get truly tough.

  • Very nice post Brad – reflective. Also, nice link the Archives.

    We take so much for granted and at least I tend to see more negative than good. It’s hard to say because my memory and observations may not be reliable, but things seem to me more fragmented than ever before. Ironically, I blame the Internet – there’s so many voices, so many causes, so many “truths” that 1) it’s hard to filter and 2) filter bias can create obscure realities. I think two candidates fighting over “least popular” says a lot.

    However, i do take issue with your headline. The Declaration of Independence marked independence from King George, but not the birth of the US. For that post a link to the Constitution would be more appropriate. Though the Declaration of Independence is more stirring and appropriate with your message.

  • Greatest country in the history of the world. We have warts. We make mistakes. That’s what innovative entities do. Truly amazing that those minds came together when they did. the declaration is inspiring reading. I had to memorize the preamble in 7th grade. I also find the Federalist Papers which explain what they were thinking and how they saw things working inspiring.

  • Thank you for a thoughtful, insightful post instead of the mind-numbing flag waving that populates social media on this day.

  • Daniel Kraft

    Being at the forefront of human society would include to allow the rights not just on paper. I love the US, the optimism, the willingness to win, the believe in a big idea. I always wonder if those strengths require to be so aggressive, egoistic and sometimes stupid. There is a magic combo here and I hope it never tips to the dark side. May this 4th always be with you.