Happy Independence Day! I hope you and your family are able to be together on this special and most American of holidays. While you are enjoying your cookouts, parades and fireworks, take a moment to reflect on what the holiday means, and who made it possible.
The 4th of July, 1776 was the day the Declaration of Independence from Britain was signed by American colonial leaders. But it wasn’t simply a breakup letter. It laid out the fundamental ideas and philosophy that would become the cornerstone of one of the world’s most powerful democracies.
New ideas about the “rights of man,” like fair representation in government, the ability to own land, or the freedom to do business with whomever one chose were radical departures from a European history of monarchy where the King told his subjects what was good for them, and they obeyed (or were promptly arrested and sometimes executed). But the Declaration of Independence sought to end this injustice and empower the people of a new government to make their own choices and determine their own future by collective agreement. And most of that philosophy was cribbed from the enlightenment ideals espoused by a fraternity that began in no less of a place than London, itself – the Freemasons.
In fact, several important leaders among our Founding Fathers were members of the fraternity. Illustrious men like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and George Washington. As Freemasons, they were already accustomed to rule by consensus from the governance of their Lodges. They believed in the equality of mankind, and that regardless of position, from Master of the Lodge or King to the newest Entered Apprentice or the lowest laborer, human beings were created as equal by God. They were ideals and a philosophy they would fight and die for, and through their sacrifice, we live in freedom today.
So, today we celebrate the birth of a nation, a nation that exists because of a philosophy of equality before God that was learned first in a Masonic Lodge.
Happy Fourth of July!!!