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.
Signed and Sealed this 4th day of July, 1776.
A Guest Post by Judge Jim Troupis
During this Independence Day holiday week it’s such a marvelous thing to take stock in what counts and what does not. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence certainly understood what counts in life. They were, quite literally, signing their own death warrants in signing the Declaration—“we mutually pledge to each other our lives….” They would be hunted to the ends of the earth by the most powerful government on the planet—Great Britain.
So this past week I began to ruminate on what, in our lives, really counts. “Perspective”—what does it bring?
There is, of course, family. My wife and I are blessed with three spectacularly wonderful extraordinary kids. (Rule #1. Boasting about your own children may be boring, but it’s acceptable behavior.) This summer we are expecting two more grandchildren—a total of five both by Labor Day and because of a Labor Day.
Family of course is much broader, isn’t it? Especially these days, the “family” is actually returning to what it once was—a broader concept. Consider that in very recent times (certainly in the past century), the death of a brother, sister or cousin meant the rest of the “family” would take-in the children. Raise them as their own. These duties were not, nor can they ever be, properly the role of government. The connection is necessarily and morally different. The commitment that makes a family is much different.
In my Greek family the entire town is considered part of the family. Witness all the “uncles” and “aunts” who emigrated to America with no more than a common area of the Peloponnese in common. The family candy store/restaurant, in the Troupis clan, was occupied by sundry uncles and aunts of no more commonality than the geography of their birth. The ‘family tree’ is more a bush than a tree. There remain societies to this day organized by their Greek village. I often ponder that this was, indeed, a part of the Bible itself. After all, Mary and Joseph returned to the family village to be counted.
“Perspective” allows us to appreciate our family, no matter how defined.
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There is, of course, the old saw that “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got just about everything.” When we’re young that seems like just poppy-cock, but as one ages the wisdom of that simple phrase is proves so very very true.
“Perspective” allows us to appreciate our health in ways only we can, as individuals, appreciate.
There is the happenstance of the year of our birth. If you doubt the importance and randomness of that event in our lives, consider the effect of being born in the 1700’s (at our country’s founding) against being born today. Life span has doubled—twice the time to enjoy this marvelous life. Medicine can eliminate or relieve pain, a far cry from the near death experience of a mere visit to the dentist in 1776. (Well, in fairness, that’s probably a bad example—dentistry, the “it wasn’t so bad” profession….) A library of ten million volumes is now a mouse-click away in Manhattan and Siberia. Opportunity abounds both here and around the world.
“Perspective” allows us to understand the good fortune of timing.
And the place we live—America—is unimaginable to most of history. Freedom to succeed. Freedom to fail. Freedom to be left alone. Freedom to be a part of whatever we choose.
“Perspective” allows us to appreciate every day the value of freedom and liberty and the value of living in the United States of America.
Perhaps all of this is why lately many of us have felt so uneasy with the state of public affairs. It matters not what political party one claims, the obsession with the trivial seems overwhelming. There is no need to list those at fault, or to list the faults themselves. It is enough that we, the people, do genuinely recognize there are more important things in our lives. “Perspective”—something those who choose public office, and those who choose to report on those in public office, ought to take stock of this holiday.
Enjoy the holiday. Enjoy this marvelous life. Keep it all in perspective.