When I drove my two sons from Canada to North Carolina in 2019 for the World Irish Dance Championships, we took a detour on the way home and stopped in Washington D.C. We toured the Capitol and all the monuments and were so impressed with the history. As Bono once said, “America is an idea. Ireland is a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain is a great country, but it’s not an idea. That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history.”
Some folks decided that they could govern themselves without monarchy or dictators. They said, “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.”
How radical. As history professor Heather Cox Richardson said, “In a world that had been dominated by a small class of rich men for so long that most people simply accepted that they should be forever tied to their status at birth, a group of upstart legislators on the edge of a wilderness continent declared that no man was born better than any other.”
Of course, the Declaration of Independence did leave a lot of folks out of the equation. And for years people have fought for equal rights for all. Lincoln had to wait four months between winning the election and inauguration and, during that time, seven states seceded from the Union and soon the Civil War began. That would be a challenging welcome to a new job.
Although this past week saw centuries of divide come to a head, it also brought us the story of Georgia. Where Stacey Abrams rallied after losing the governorship race in 2018 and got 500,000 new people registered to vote. This led to Georgia adding two democratic Senators to the House and flipping power to the other side.
Of the people, by the people, for the people.
As a global community, we have a mountain to climb. Those watching America from other countries must remember we have work to do at home as well. May this next season be full of open discussions and solutions that lead to equality, understanding and hope for all.