Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom.
Hugo De Groot
The Reason for American Society
I cannot tell you exactly what was in the minds, hearts and souls of those who came to “found” what has become these United States. I am much clearer about those who were already here and what was in their hearts, minds and souls before the refugees, intruders, invaders, exploiters came.
As I explored in Part 2 of this section, I know what I have been told, what I have read and what I believe. And I also see evidence of the tracks and trails good and bad of those who were here and those who “came.” I was taught that you can learn a great deal about people from the tracks and trails they leave and we have many of both to explore.
First of all, few of our written histories are clear that when the people from the Western European nations came, they came to a country with a variety of fully-functioning cultures. These fully functioning cultures had many commonalities as discussed in Part 2. Indeed, they had more in common than they had in differences. And, these commonalities were often quite functional and very different from those who arrived on their shores.
Indeed, some of the ways in which the groups already here functioned held solutions to the deficiencies which those who came were finding in their own cultures. Although they did not HAVE Christianity, many of the ways the people here lived with themselves and with one another were the practice of what Jesus of Nazareth taught.
Some of the subcultures already had a written language and were able to communicate in sophisticated ways. Their orators were well respected.
Indeed, it was quite possible that at least some of what those who came were seeking was already here – – decision by consensus with participation by all, for example.
These are the realities which are not usually included in understanding the “founding” of these “United States.” There are many more.
So what did they bring and why did they come?
As children, we all are taught that one of the primary reasons of the people that came to this continent was to found a land where there was religious freedom. They were tired of the suppressions and repressions of Rome and the Church of England. They longed for a place where all religions would be valued, respected and allowed to practice their beliefs. From what I was taught, this freedom of religion and/or from religion is basic to who and what we are as a nation – although presently, there seems to be some confusion about this founding principle. I, of course, learned this principle to be free of and free from any particular state religion with the emphasis being on freedom.
I also understand that the people who came here to found something new were fleeing from the oppression of a hierarchical structure. They did not want to have royalty, a dictator, a hierarchy, an oligarchy or a hereditary “ruler” run the country. They had lived with and under all of these and they knew that none was healthy.
I am recalling when I was last in Russia and we were discussing the efficacy of a democracy versus a dictatorship. That was one of the times when I came to realize how deeply committed I was to “freedom” and “equality.” I was shocked that most Russians I spoke with did not want a democracy over an oligarchy. The phrase on their side of the discussion that really hit me between the eyes was that “democracy was too messy.” They would rather have a dictator that would tell them what to do. I found this almost impossible to believe.
Perhaps we, in America, have a small minority in this “democracy” who still want that kind of dictatorship or oligarchy (especially if they are the “ruler”). And, I find it hard to believe. For me, bring on the mess. I want the responsibility of having a say and “mucking around” in the mess – together – until we find a better way.
I was taught that this was a country based on life (a good life), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I was taught that if we all contributed what we could, and took just what we needed, there would be enough for all (the people who were already here knew that!). Those who came to exploit did not believe this and yet, there is nothing in our founding documents that says that exploitation is part of our founding ideals. Indeed, some did come to exploit and we can still elect exploiters as a President.
I was taught that if we all abided by the law, the law would be fair and when it was not fair, it would be changed. The people who came here, like the people here, wanted to find a better way than what they knew and what they had come from. Yet, when given our limitations as human beings, it is not surprising that we continue to perpetuate (consciously and unconsciously) the mistakes of the past.
Regardless of the above, as full of faults as we humans are, many of us choose to believe that when given the opportunities for a brand new start, we can and should take the risk to form something better.
Our founding “fathers” (and unfortunately, I use the word advisably because among the white founders’ voices there were no women or people of color) made faltering steps in the right direction.
In the mess we are in now, we have the opportunity together, with the participation of men and women and all colors and creeds, to move in a direction to build on what was envisioned in this nation.
There will still be those who believe in hierarchy. There will still be those who believe in racism and sexism. There are those who still believe that we need the poor to keep the rich, rich. There will be exploiters who believe that exploitation is okay. We may never be able to shift their outmoded beliefs and assumptions.
And for America, these United States to fulfill its mandate for all its people and for the people of the world, let us see where we are now as a possibility starting with re-digesting the Declaration of Independence.
Remember – there was an important reason that the refugees, explorers, “colonizers”/exploiters, idealists and dreamers came here to mix with a civilization that was already here and had something additional that was good to offer.
The Declaration of Independence
My impression is that England may have thought that they had been sending “colonizers” and exploiters. Those who came had other ideas, whether they could verbalize them or not.
I was going to comment on various aspects of the Declaration of Independence. And, as I read through it, I was inspired with the combination of the idealism and the courage it took to write it. I found it inspiring to read it and am motivated and impressed with the courage and possibilities it represents.
- This country is more than a political possibility.
- It is more than a monetary/business potential.
- It is more than a colonization.
- It is more than a population expansion.
- It is more than a playground for business expansion.
The Declaration of Independence
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. (Sound familiar?)
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. (Sound familiar?)
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, [That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.] And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
This country is a dream of possibilities of:
- Realizing the spiritual apex of our possibilities as human beings with the integration of all that means.
- Founding a way of being with one another that is not based on hierarchy.
- Living as one with one another, the earth, and all creation.
- Living without the “isms.”
- Eliminating poverty and seeking equality.
- Moving away from what has not worked for humanity.
- Learning from differences.
- Reuniting with the “oneness” of all creation.
- Realizing our potential as individuals, cultures/societies, the planet and the human race.
The founding of these United States set up the possibility to change our trajectory as a human race and on the planet. It will help if we can stop, take stock, relook at our founding documents and beliefs, incorporate the richness of our diversity in backgrounds, wisdom of all kinds, sexes, races and ideas and become what we can be.
Although difficult, these are exciting times filled with possibilities. Let’s not blow it! Remember, our forefathers wanted a participatory government. Unfortunately, their short-sighted vision only included white men and heads of state. We know a bit more now.