Independence Day

         On July 4th, Americans celebrate the independence of the United States from the control of the British.  Though now we are friendly with the British, at that time, in 1776, we wanted to be free of the British - make our own laws, collect taxes that we decide and that will help our own country, and be free to choose any religion or no religion at all according to our beliefs.  Still, the U.S. has British roots.  For example,  the rule of law is the guiding principle in our society, just as it was in England.

         Here’s a bit of history behind the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  In the 1700’s, the people in the American colonies in North America experienced a change in their relationship to God.  The American colonies began to think that their first priority was to obey God, not the British government which was “godless.”  The Colonies asked Britain for more autonomy and more control over the kind and amount of taxes they had to pay. 

         However, in response, the British simply made new kinds of taxes which the Colonists hated.  One kind of tax was the stamp tax.  Another kind of tax was the tea tax.  It seems that the British wanted to hurt the American colonies so they passed more and more laws that restricted the colonies.  The Colonies called these laws “the intolerable acts” because they could not tolerate them or live with them.

         In 1774, leaders of the colonies met together and decided that they would not trade with Britain anymore.  There were battles between Britain and the “patriots” (colonist fighters) and then Britain declared war on the colonies in December of 1775.  This simply made the colonists feel stronger about independence.  Samuel Adams said, “Is not America already independent?  Why not declare it?”  and Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

         Then the Congress chose five men to write a declaration of independence.  Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing because of his skill.  The declaration begins (paraphrased) “we belief  that these truths are  very visible to all – that all men are created equal and that their Creator (God) has given to them certain rights which cannot be taken away – the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit (or search for) happiness.”   

         How well do you think the U.S. lives up to this ideal?  Do you think all  men are created equal?  What does that mean?  Are there any exceptions?  Why or why not?  Do you think that humans have certain rights that should be guarded by every society and government?  What do you think that they are?

         What countries of the world have the best balance between the independence of individual persons and the interdependence of persons in a society?  Explain your choices.

         Rate your own independence.  Do you desire more independence or more interdependence?  Explain.