Happy Fourth of July.
No silly memes or cute cat pictures this post. I want to talk about what it means to be an American Patriot on our nation's birthday. America is a nation of astonishing diversity, both in ideas and in cultures. Yet our one of our national mottos is this: "E Pluribus Unum" - Out of many, one. We are ALL Americans, with all our different ideas, skin colors, and religious beliefs.
It disturbs me when I see some people on the far right or far left saying it is time for a second Civil War. Patriotic Americans do not wish their fellow citizens dead and maimed; patriotic Americans have no desire to see American cities in flames, America's beautiful countryside turned into a battleground, America's wives widowed and her children orphaned. The last Civil War killed 750,000 Americans - a second one, with the brutal technologies of war that exist in the modern world, would leave millions dead.
Right and left, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, we are all Americans. We may have very different ideas about how to run the country, about what candidates to support, about what rulings our courts should make. But in the end, we live in one country, we salute the same flag, we are governed by the same Constitution. On this Fourth of July, let us remember the words of a great American, at a time when the country was almost as bitterly polarized as it is today. It was 1801, and Thomas Jefferson had just emerged as the victor in a bitterly contested Presidential election that was thrown to the House after the electoral votes ended in a tie. This is what he said:
"During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. . . . . But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
Happy Birthday, America.