July 2024

July Thought of the Month

"Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope...."

~ Robert "Bobby" F. Kennedy, Sr.

One of my Fourth of July traditions is to watch the musical 1776. While entertaining with fun and serious moments, it gives viewers a look at how the United States got its start that isn't usually emphasized. Most of us envision the famous painting when we think of the signers the Declaration of Independence. Americans revere the men we call our Founding Fathers, but with few exceptions, their fates aren't part of the historical narrative. Most of us don't even wonder what happened to them after that foundational moment.

In today's measures, these men would be the equivalent of the top 1-10% — wealthy landowners, politicians, educated men of influence. The status quo would have been best for them, but each realized the long-term cost if they continued to support a monarchy that treated the colonies as its private piggy bank and its occupants as second class citizens. They opted for freedom knowing the possible price of that defiance, and it was high.

All were branded traitors to England. Some were caught and tortured. Many lost everything they'd spent their lives building, and more (read "The Sacrifices Made by the Declaration Signers" by Michael W. Smith). But they were willing to pay that price for their generation and all those that would follow. They knew a truth that comfort and complacency has blinded far too many of us to: Freedom is not free and is never completely paid for.

America has always been a work in progress. The job wasn't done when the Constitution was ratified. That's why we have Amendments. The writers of the Constitution may not have been able to envision the exact advancements in science, society, and technology the future held, but they knew that change would come, must come for a nation to have a chance to expand and survive. They saw what went wrong in the system of government they had left behind and did their best to counter those negatives. It's our responsibility to keep us on the right path and moving forward.

Complacency is a strategy we can't afford to indulge. We must stop saying things like "It's always been that way so no need to worry." There are people alive today who remember otherwise. Women couldn't open their own bank accounts in some states until 1974. A country that got its start crying "No taxation without representation" denied the majority of its citizens the right to vote for more than 100 years. Voting rights weren't protected constitutionally for white women until 1920, minorities until 1965, and the disabled until 1990. Every positive change came because the people made their voices heard through marches, speeches, protests, strikes, articles, and with their votes when they could.

Since its beginnings, citizens have combined their strengths to nourish our nation. Every American has a role in maintaining and building on the rights those who came before established to, as the Preamble says, "ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." Don't let bad news and political propaganda convince you otherwise. One person alone may not be able to do much but together we can do amazing things.

This month's quote from Bobby Kennedy was too long to fit on the thought image, but the full quote fits this moment in history perfectly. "Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistence."

The only way to preserve our freedoms is to consider them so important that we'd be willing to sacrifice for them. Become a force for positive change. Don't let anyone, not even your inner voice, belittle the impact you can have. Each of us may only be a single drop but where we join with others of like mind, we can generate a torrent that will send irresistable ripples of change to achieve the causes we support.

[Thought and image design by Elaine C. Oldham]

072024 thought image
» Share:


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To help us prevent spam, please prove you're human by typing the words you see here.