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REFLECTION FOR TODAY: THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

August 1, 2016

The first in a series of columns.

I have been invited, challenged, and encouraged to make some comment about the situation in our world, our country, and our national politics. I have thought and prayed about how best to respond.

First of all, there is little that is new in all of the current chaos. At my age I can assure you that the political turbulence of the 1968 national election was much more upsetting to me than this year. At that point I was in my mid-twenties; our country had experienced a series of assassinations- President John F. Kennedy,  Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. The war in Vietnam was raging. Several of my good friends were casualties of that war in Southeast Asia. The use of illegal drugs claimed the lives of some of my contemporaries on a weekly basis. So from my perspective, what we are experiencing now is no worse.

Still, current events are very disturbing and quite perplexing. They are also magnified by the lightning quick communication through Facebook, texting, e-mails, and tweeting. I still subscribe to and read two newspapers. While I can get the news much more quickly through other media, reading the newspaper allows time for reflection, contemplation, and prayer. I refer to this as the devotional reading of the news.

So, what is the best way for me to share my thoughts on the things that trouble so many of our citizens? How can I best share with those of you who care what I think? What is my take on a world at war on multiple fronts, a nation that I love seized by anxiety and fear, and a national election that has been filled with distrust and meanness and promises to continue to be vitriolic and divisive?

I have decided to post through my blog some of the inspirational words that strike me as important. These will be wisdom, poems, prayers, scriptures, and hymns that I come to in my own life of devotion. Some will be clearly religious. Others will seem secular. Some are profound; others mundane. All I believe are worth our time. I suggest reading them, pausing to reflect upon them, and then pondering the meaning throughout the day.

These postings are not intended to prompt debate. They are offered to encourage thoughtful, prayerful reflection. Please keep in mind that I have been a Christian pastor for more than fifty years. You will find a distinct Christian influence in these offerings. That is not intended to exclude anyone. I believe that those of you from other faith groups will find wisdom here that can be translated into your own traditional framework.

This first entry is one that we have all read from one of our most cherished documents, the Declaration of Independence, our founding document. It is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“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.”

Following a long list of grievances, the Declaration concludes.

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

My prayer is that these words will prompt us to reflect, ponder, and pray.

 

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