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.—
July 4, 1776
Our country was founded on the dream of liberty and freedom, equality and human rights. Over the course of our history we have struggled to live up to these ideals. We have had out dark periods and our moments of success. But through it all we have been seen as a nation which, at its best, had the goal of freedom, opportunity and dignity for all and opened it to those who came here seeking it. These values cannot be sacrificed through fear or misinformation. We need these principles to guide us more than ever at this difficult time when we are struggling with disease, division, and a new awareness of the meaning of equality and human rights. Patriotism is not a one day celebration, but a realistic commitment to the best of who we are as a nation and a desire to support one another as we work together to achieve it. It is not about one of us or some of us but about all of us. As we celebrate this national holiday, may we be grateful for the vision and gift of America. In that spirit of gratitude, may we deny all prejudice and division a place in our hearts, may we focus on the founding vision of this country, work to keep it alive, refuse to relinquish it, and hold to the belief that all people have equal dignity and worth.
Bless our nation, O God, and guide us in right paths.
Read the Declaration of Independence again. Analyze the principles it includes. Reflect on what you cherish as an American citizen. Identify the corresponding responsibility you have. How can you join others to prevent anyone from putting personal power above the common good? Consider the grievances listed in the Declaration. What may distress you about our country at this time? How can you exercise your citizenship to help correct this?
You shall…proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
You shall not therefore oppress one another.
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
Pope Francis’ Address to Congress.
The virtue of patriotism demands that we put our founding ideals above our present opportunities. Otherwise, like all the decayed regimes before us, we may well put our national politics before our national characters.
Joan Chittister, OSB
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect.
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.