Sunday, July 4 was Independence Day 2021 and today is a federal public holiday in the United States. It’s a holiday which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by delegates from the 13 colonies. Our country is therefore 245 years old and still looking very good! (Maybe you noticed July 1 was Canada Day; it’s looking fine too.) I believe there’s been a lot of progress and growth in the US – as is also the case all human experience.
The American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), defines “Independence” as “a state of mind in which a person acts without bias or influence from others; exemption from undue influence; self-direction.” And, it includes this: “Declaration of Independence: the solemn declaration of the congress of the United States of America on the 4th of July, 1776, by which they formally renounced their subjection to the government of Great Britain.”
At the time less than a month before, at its Convention, Congress appointed a “Committee of Five” to draft a declaration of independence. The committee consisted of Robert R. Livingston of New York, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, John Adams of Massachusetts (who became the 2nd US president), Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania (whose image is on the $100 bill), and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia (who became the 3rd US president). Jefferson, who was the ambassador to France at the time, was the primary figure who wrote the historic document. He drew upon the thoughts of John Locke. For instance, the phrase “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” was an idea first considered by Locke in his Two Treatises on Government. Locke wrote that all individuals are equal in the sense that they are born with certain “inalienable” natural rights. That is, rights that are God-given and can never be taken or even given away. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.”
There were 56 signors of the Declaration. But, four significant founding fathers – George Washington, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison – were not signors. Interestingly, John Dickinson of Pennsylvania and James Duane, Robert Livingston and John Jay of New York refused to sign. Carter Braxton of Virginia, Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, George Reed of Delaware, and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina opposed the document but signed in order to give the impression of a unanimous Congress. And, 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of the document, with New York abstaining. (www.constitutionfacts.com and www.USHistory.org and www.history.com )
A fun fact is that Mary Katherine Goddard was the only woman who “signed” the Declaration of Independence. At the bottom of the document is written “Baltimore, in Maryland: Printed by Mary Katherine Goddard.” Goddard, who was working as a printer at the time, voluntarily inscribed her full name on the document.
The Declaration of Independence states three basic ideas: 1) God made all men equal and gave them rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; 2) the main business of government is to protect these rights; 3) if a government tries to withhold these rights, the people are free to revolt and set up a government that does so. (www.britannica.com )
These are the lines contemporary Americans know best: “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.”
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Church and discoverer of Christian Science, loved our country and prayed daily and often for many throughout our country. She wrote in her groundbreaking, influential book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Like our nation, Christian Science has its Declaration of Independence. God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love.” (p.106)
It is upon this basis that we at Wide Horizon practice and support Christian Science nursing. We work to recognize this Declaration of Independence of Christian Science which includes self-government, sound reason, and conscientiousness. Like Christ Jesus, we desire to move with compassion towards those who need our services. And, we seek to be guided rightly by divine Truth and Love – practicing wisdom, economy and brotherly love in all our work. We strive to be governed by our divine Maker, our heavenly Father-Mother, God. Ultimately, we hope to witness the health and wholeness of God’s children, male and female, made spiritually in His image and likeness (Genesis 1) – wherein all have rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as emphasized in the Declaration of Independence of the United States.
D. Brian Boettiger