Happy Birthday, USA!

The 4th of July is always a good day to take a few minutes to read the document that gave birth to the USA by telling the King of England to shove it, the Declaration of Independence.

It’s easy to lose the meaning of this document with our distance in time and space to it. When I read it, the words “this has all happened before and it will all happen again” go through my mind.

For those who associate the words ‘declaration of independence’ with hot dogs and fireworks, rather than self-severing of political control from what would probably be considered today as a slightly oppressive and obstinate King, it’s good to put in perspective what the Declaration of Independence is.

The closest analogy that all of us experience in our lives is growing up, out from under the watchful decision-making of our parents, into adults where we are responsible for determining our own destiny and cleaning up our own messes.

Remember the arguments you had with your parents as teenagers? But, Mom, everybody else is going on that trip, why won’t you let me go? Dad, Why do I have to be home at 11? Can’t I stay out later?

Those were your struggles with your independence. In most of our cases, our parents were right and helped us avoid some pain. And, eventually, we earned our independence from our parents as we grew up because we either demonstrated good enough decision-making or our parents just got tired of bailing us out of our idiotic choices.

But, we all probably know friends where the parents didn’t hand over independence to their children so easily. These were the parents who ran their children’s lives for their own benefit, rather than the child’s. Their kids helped the parents recapture some of their lost dreams.

We see these friends struggle to gain their independence. This is what the U.S. struggled with. The oppressive parent that governed the colonies for its own benefit.

The next struggle for independence many folks experience is with their neighborhood Homeowners Association. It seems that the officer positions on those associations tend to attract the direct descendants of King George III, as we find out when we decide that we’d like to add some landscaping to our home and run up against the arbitrary and obstinate neighborhood review board for approval.

It’s worth getting past the first two paragraphs in the Declaration and reading the long list of complaints against the King laid out by the founders in the Declaration of Independence. Here are the first two:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

The first two complaints are that the King had not allowed the states to pass their own laws without his approval, and he never gave approval.

For those among us who know a little about the birth of our country, we know that it had something to do with taxation without representation and the Boston Tea Party and all that. Indeed, that appears as the seventeenth complaint:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent

Before lighting your punks today, take 10 minutes and give a thoughtful read to the full text of the Declaration. It’s why you get the day off, after all.