This past weekend, we celebrated Independence Day. July 4th is when the United States commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Declaration was signed by representatives of all thirteen American colonies justifying and announcing independence from British rule. The most famous signature was that of John Hancock, whose iconic flourish has become synonymous with taking a stand in the face of potentially fatal consequences. Each of the 56 signers took a risk. Speaking out against the ruling power – Great Britain — was considered an act of treason. Signing meant potentially jeopardizing their lives and fortunes. Seditious offenders who were caught would be tortured, killed, and their possessions confiscated — a penalty that extended even to heirs.
On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters breached and attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. They were attempting to stop Congress from counting the 2020 presidential electoral votes. The Capitol Complex was overrun and locked down. Lawmakers were evacuated while protestors assaulted police officers and reporters and vandalized the building. After the facility was cleared and secured, the vote count proceeded.
Who were the architects of rebellion? Did it just happen that thousands of “normal” Americans showed up at the Capitol armed with guns, mace, and weapons of opportunity. Their attempts to disrupt the certification of the now ex-president’s defeat in the election failed. President-elect Biden’s victory was formalized that night. Afterwards, plans exposed a willingness to stalk and kill government officials to achieve the rioters’ aim. Many even recorded evidence and posted the criminal behavior on social media.
Consider this Bible story about Solomon. Two women approached the King about a baby each swore was hers. After hearing their pleas, he said: “Both of you say the baby is yours. Bring me a sword. Cut the baby in half! That way, each of you can have part of him.” The baby’s real mother screamed: “Please don’t kill my son. I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.” Solomon pointed at the first woman: “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.” (1 Kings 3:16-27)
Unlike the founding fathers, no leaders of the attempted coup in January have accepted responsibility. The architects of the attack would destroy rather than concede. They have chosen not to put their freedom, fortunes, and reputations on the line. To date, 545 people have been arrested and charged with crimes related to the January 6th insurrection. Many are using the justification that they were “just following orders.” The assault on democracy was unsuccessful but six months later, fences that still surround the Capitol serve as a reminder.
The Declaration states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Perhaps, another self-evident truth would be that a real leader would choose to spare the country, rather than allowing it to be cut in pieces. The defeated one continues to agitate for division: “If I can’t have the baby, no one else can have it either.”
Courage is the strength to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. Cravenness is inciting violence and letting others do the dirty work. When the going got tough, the “tough” watched TV and left others holding the bag – “Suckers!”
Independence Day is momentous in our country’s history, but personally significant for those who crafted the new political system. On July 4, 1826 — 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration — signers and former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within five hours of each other.
© Joan S Grey, 9 July 2021 ∞
IndexCardCure™: Truth, justice, and the American way: the practice of freedom