Wednesday, July 02, 2008

July 4, 1776

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson's most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.

On July 4, 1776, America claimed her independence from Britain and Democracy was born.

Democracy is a beautiful thing if applied as to the letter of the law. Look over the world today, the two greatest nations are by no coincidence Britain and America.

One of the reasons we felt a pull and draw in our hearts to come and settle in the USA, was for the very reason above. True democracy! Having lived all my life in Africa, first under white rule in the then Rhodesia, with Ian Smith as President, and then Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe's leadership, true democracy was a figment of the imagination. It was simply a word, used only in the context of wooing foreign investors, and holding forced political rallies to be used as a public display of so-called "freedom".

Today I stood chatting with an American, Brazilian, and me a Zimbabwean! We spoke of this coming weekend and what it meant for each of us. The resounding echo we all agreed on was the fact that in a society that upholds the civil rights and liberties of its' people, and stands upon true democracy, the economy may falter, may dip but if these principles are steadfast then the cycle will correct itself in time and the rights of it's citizens and residents will be respected, whether under a Democratic or Republican leadership. The freedom exists within the bounds of the law to be who you want to be.

For me that means I can practice my beliefs and not have to look over my shoulder and be concerned who is watching, who is making note of my steps and getting ready to report me to the governing authorities. Sounds preposterous, but happens throughout the world. Take Zimbabwe, prime example. It is against the law today to meet in groups larger than three people. That even means walking down the road innocently in a small group is prohibited. The government is hell bent on breaking up any form of political opposition even if it means disrupting Church gatherings and places of worship. This is only one example of a failed democracy and the demonizing of leadership on innocent people!

Skimming back over the issues taking place in Zimbabwe, I am drawn to the untold stories. The children who have been born in the last 15 years. What do they know of freedom? What do they know of eating three nutritional meals every day? What do they know of playing joyful at the park with a football? When they get sick, will they ever see the inside of a clinic or hospital to receive care and treatment that should be made available to them? What about their parents - what legacy is being left for these children? The average age of life expectancy has declined from 64 to 36. One in 15 woman in Zimbabwe will not survive childbirth. AIDS/HIV is wiping out an entire generation...a staggering 6500 people die on average every month. Some disturbing facts...

I digress easily! This week is our 6th year celebrating the 4th of July. Having integrated into this new society, we uphold those values and stand by them. And thank the Lord for leading us to a place where we would have the freedom to worship, the freedom to live our lives as Christ purposed. To contribute to society, and to expand on ways of helping those less fortunate than us.

Happy Birthday America! You are 232 years old!

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