4th of July Weekend

4th of July Weekend

As the July 4th weekend approaches and we get ready to celebrate the 246th Birthday of our Nation, I feel it is time to reflect on a word that has suffered greatly over the last few decades. This word figures prominently in our Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson was intentional in its inclusion. That word is truth.

The first seven words of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence are “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” It strikes me as significant that these words may not apply as well to 2022 as they did 1776. Do we agree that we all see the same truths? Are truths self-evident in today’s Otsego County? In New York? In America? The fact that this question even exists causes us to consider that they may well not be. So how did we get here?

America is a true mosaic. We are a nation, not of one homogenous group, but of many divergent stories that have created this quilt of many colors. We have been changing and adapting to technology, the arc of history and to each other since July 5, 1776. Nothing ever stays exactly the same. When Jefferson penned the document we celebrate this weekend, he also stated that “All men are created equal.” But when he wrote that phrase, he was referring to all white, male, landowners of wealth. Not women. Not slaves. Not “others.” Over the past two and a half centuries, those parameters have changed. And it is to the credit of American citizens that this change occurred. Through the heart, soul and vision of this country, those words now apply to us all. Because life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has always been about the truth. The truth that individuals can agree on certain principles that form a commonality between us all. Does it still exist?

Like Diogenes of Greek Mythology who wandered the earth with a lantern in search of an honest man, Americans today find it very hard to agree on the truth. The intermingling of news and information with entertainment and opinion have made truth harder to find than ever. What you believe largely stems from what media you choose to consume. Americans of all stripes have chosen conformation over information, seeking only those outlets that they agree with going in. And if you only get your news from a few favorite sources, your idea of truth has been pre-determined for you, while you are sold everything from pillows to kitchen gadgets, diabetes wonder-drugs, gold, and the services of national stockbrokers. What can you do to re-discover the truth?

My advice is to diversify your sources. Work at it. Read the Daily Star. Read both conservative and liberal newspapers from across the country and the world. Watch cable news if you must but watch a wide variety of channels. Watch the BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX News, CNN, and the rest. Listen to what people of diverse points of view are saying and writing. Take the time and truly listen. Educate yourselves. We all might see things differently if we expose ourselves to different perspectives. All of us.

This Fourth of July weekend, let us concentrate on what we share and not what we see as differences. Look around us and take in the blessings in our lives. Look around at your friends and neighbors, members of our own houses of worship, the little league kids and youth soccer squads with their great coaches, the neighborhood lemonade stands, the festival goers at the park, and even people with whom you disagree. Appreciate them for the individuals that they are. That’s what I’m going to do. Who wants to join me?



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