We, The (quite flawed) People have some pretty amazing goals to strive for. The bar was set high when our Founders crafted the Declaration of Independence, to boot:
“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.”
Beautiful, inspiring, and….there is still quite a bit of work to do. But, believe me, that’s the point.
Recently, I have been reading Simon Sinek’s book The Infinite Game. Sinek has put together an amazing explanation of what constitutes a “Just Cause.” Simon says (hehe, I can’t help myself) that in order for a company to promote a Just Cause, there are five boxes you must check. The first of these is that a company (or movement, or fledgling government) must be for something. As opposed to a rallying point that is primarily against something. And that’s where the timing of all of this makes it awkward. The prime example Sinek gives as the embodiment of being “for something” is the Declaration of Independence.
Normally that wouldn’t even cause a blip in your consciousness – of course the Declaration of Independence is a perfect example of a Just Cause, what could be better than the vision statement of our great country? But, given recent events I felt it was important to take another look at this preamble and remind us all why it is such an important piece of not only our history, but also our present and future.
Think of the Declaration of Independence as a North Star. For people who want to claim the United States was created on principles of hate or racism, this is an important distinction, as nothing could be farther from the truth. The principles could not be more noble and just. Were the Founders living these principles? Absolutely not. The people were not yet embodiments of principles to which they aspired. There’s no sense debating whether the Founding Fathers were men who exemplified what America should or would become – they missed in some very significant ways, some of which we are hearing loud and clear in protests around the country today. But in their wisdom, they knew what needed to happen for America to reach greatness.
Even then, it would take almost 200 years to accomplish emancipation, suffrage, and the Civil Rights Act. As Sinek points out, “this is what an idealized journey of a Just Cause feels like. No matter how much we have achieved, we always have further to go.”
We obviously have further to go. The American Dream may never be fully realized…but that’s okay if we are making the effort together.
More important is the struggle, the fight, and the shared aspirations to get closer to that realization that makes the difference.
God Bless America. Again.