This morning, I read through the Declaration of Independence – something I haven’t done for a while. It still makes my heart pound to read those words. There is elegance and power woven into every sentence.
But this time, the last sentence is what really captured my attention:
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.
I find that much of my life and priorities have been very self-focused. Even in my faith journey, my pursuits mostly have been about me, myself and I. Already you can count 11 singular first person pronouns in this writing!
But new stirrings within are helping refocus that tendency away from me to we. So, from this point in the essay, the goal will be to redirect towards second person pronouns, too!
God is giving opportunities for this one flawed and often selfish human being to see the world more fully as a gift to us. It’s his original intent that we look at life and faith through a communal vs. individual lens. In Galatians 5:13-14, we are reminded:
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” NLT
And July 4 seems a very fitting day to read that our forefathers pledged to be in it together throughout their lives, with all their fortunes,and in a committed mindset to honor and value each other.
Obviously, these words did not fully work out their inherent truth in every aspect of our young country, or slavery and women’s equality for example, would not have become issues for which we had to fight to change course. But, theses words of equality and mutuality keep working on us as a nation, and that is why this declaration is such a vibrant document. It causes us to critique our lives now through the words written then, and own the prejudices and blind spots that still keep us from being a nation of “we”.
And although there are certainly vital issues of mutuality that require the strength of legislation, my first person hope is that we would learn to live in the second person more often and that this reality would be ever before us: my freedom doesn’t mean much unless it is shared with you, freely.