Thursday, July 4, 2019

July 4th - The Day a Nation Remembers What It Was and What It Wants To Be

Today, as in every critical time in United States history, The Declaration of Independence is calling each of us to live up to its words.

On July 4th, the US celebrates the signing of a document declaring its independence from British rule and the creation of a republic that would be named The United States of America.  Those who try to turn this day into something else diminish the significance of that moment and the beauty of the document.

We know from history, that the majority of men who signed this declaration did not hold a vision of "liberty" that included the African slave and indigenous inhabitants of this land. However, despite their mindset, providence used them to craft a document containing universal truths that apply to all mankind and, regardless of the intent of the original signers, that document has its own indisputable legacy.

July 4th is a day when the United States of America collectively remembers what it was, what it is, and what it aspires to become.  While the individual ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of US residents always have and always will differ in nuance, for the better part of the last 50 years the dream of what the nation would become was similar for the vast majority.  Yet, this July 4th, many people are questioning whether the nation will ever live up to the words written in its founding document. 

The Declaration of Independence and,  The Constitution of the United States remain foundational documents that establish the principles which formed this government.  Their words continue to shape our government as it struggles to evolve from the thinking of 18th century men whose character flaws allowed them to justify slavery and view themselves as superior to both the slave and indigenous person, to the  enlightened thoughts and  dreams of 21st century mankind which recognizes the ignorance of an ideology that is not aligned with the belief that "all men (and women) are created equal and endowed, simply by virtue of their birth, with certain inalienable rights.

So today, I wish everyone in the United States of America a happy, safe and peaceful Fourth of July and the dream of a Happy Independence Day.   I hope that at some time during this day or weekend you will take a moment to reflect on the words in The Declaration of Independence and the responsibility that it implies.

 Today, history is calling and the fate of a nation depends on your answer.

These are the words of The Declaration of Independence.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But 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. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

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.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

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, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — 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.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Remember to Look Across The Field

There's a phenomenon, which I believe is unique to sports, in which the non-participants (fans) develop an emotional investment in, and vicarious relationship with, the complete strangers (athletes) for whom they cheer. Sadly, too many fans take their fanaticism to an extreme, but that's a topic for another post. 

In my case, as I've aged, I find myself viewing sporting events through the eyes of a pseudo-grandparent.  You know the type.  That older person who wants everyone to feel like a winner even when they lose and throws out colloquialisms and clich├ęs like, "it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game."  Yes, I've become one of those people who sees almost everything that happens in sports as a metaphor and an opportunity to explain the beauty, heartbreak, and often precarious nature of life's journey.   So, while at 4 pm yesterday I was thrilled and feeling that rush of pride that most sports fans feel when "their team" is winning, four and a half hours later I was torn between being excited that my kids had won and feeling heartbroken for the kids who lost. 

Like most US soccer fans, I had been waiting all week for the US Women's Soccer Team's return to the World Cup.  My work schedule allowed me to watch the first half in real time and return from my break, knowing that with a lead of 3-0 over their competition, the US Women were certain to win their match. However, when I learned later that the margin of victory had been 13-0, my enthusiasm was tempered by empathy for the coach and players of Team Thailand.

I don't buy into that "you're either with me or against me, win, win, win" philosophy.  Sports isn't war, and even in war, there is room for empathy for enemy combatants.  The women of Team Thailand had worked, trained and waited for four long years to play on the world's biggest soccer stage too and, yesterday they found themselves in the path of an unstoppable, powerful, red train, coming at them throttle open, full speed.  At some point, Team Thailand must have felt like the proverbial deer in headlights.  At least that's how I would have felt.  In fact, I know exactly how it feels to compete against a team that you know is more talented.  You give it your all and pray that you come out of the competition relatively unscathed and with your dignity intact.  Thankfully, I never played on a world stage. I didn't want to watch the second half of the World Cup match last night, but the since the US Women's victory was historic, I recorded it for a later date. I'm still incredibly proud of them.

I can think of dozens of metaphors to compare the US Women's win over Thailand to life. There's the family who celebrates one child getting straights As when their other child struggles to get Cs. The kids who get new cars for their birthday and drive them to school to show them off to their friends who catch the bus. The family member who just bought a house when another member is struggling to pay the rent.  The co-worker who is being honored at a retirement banquet when a fellow co-worker will never be able to afford to retire.  This is life.  In each of the above scenarios, the individual has a reason to celebrate their achievements and should not be resented by the latter for doing so.  Yet, those who identify with the first person in any of those scenarios should be reminded to have empathy for their counterparts. 

At one time or another, we have been or will be the US Women's Team and at other times been Team Thailand.  If I had grandchildren I would tell them that the greatest achievement in life is to handle both situations with grace and, to celebrate the victories but remember to take a moment to look across the field. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A New Generation Discovers The Matrix

The Justice League is Real

The biggest question of 2019 probably isn't "can you hear me?" but rather, "can you see me?"

Listen to this 2016 TedTalk as MIT graduate student and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, Joy Buolamwini explains the problem of bias in facial recognition software and other forms of AI.   

Yes, superheroes are real. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Learning, Laughing and Leaving A Legacy

If you've been following along, you know that my journey has taken me to three amazing institutions of higher education. Today, I want to give them a quick shoutout.  


Emerson College, Boston, MA 

Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 

The University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Have a great weekend

Monday, February 25, 2019

Breathing Under Water by Emelie Sande

No major pronouncements in this post.  Just one of my favorite videos.

Can You Relate?

I just had to post this. Can you relate?