Independence

Jefferson and AdamsWhen is the last time you read the Declaration of Independence?

In the afterglow of the fireworks and the barbeque some of my friends and colleagues are doing this informal poll with me. We are not capturing the results so it is really meant as an additional conversation point at the social outings and perhaps providing some insight into our socio-economic and political roots. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend and that this will be ‘fun.’

Maybe next year I will deliver a more formalized poll where we can measure the results. In the meantime, blessings on the second half of your year!!

This got me wondering about mankind’s revolutionary march through history. In trying to be true to my promotion of reading Warren Berger’s recent book, A More Beautiful Question published March 4 of this year, I let my curiosity refresh (or enlighten anew) my understanding.

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Before IndependenceWhat were the events leading up to and inspiring the Declaration?

Introduction from History.com (incredible audio-visual website)

When armed conflict between bands of American colonists and British soldiers began in April 1775, the Americans were ostensibly fighting only for their rights as subjects of the British crown. By the following summer, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, the movement for independence from Britain had grown, and delegates of the Continental Congress were faced with a vote on the issue. In mid-June 1776, a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin was tasked with drafting a formal statement of the colonies’ intentions. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence–written largely by Jefferson–in Philadelphia on July 4, a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence.

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French RevolutionWas there any relationship to the French Revolution?

Introduction from History.com (incredible audio-visual website)

A watershed event in modern European history, the French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Like the American Revolution before it, the French Revolution was influenced by Enlightenment ideals, particularly the concepts of popular sovereignty and inalienable rights. Although it failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the movement played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.

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Russian RevolutionHow does Russia figure into all this?

Introduction from History.com (incredible audio-visual website)

In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In March, growing civil unrest, coupled with chronic food shortages, erupted into open revolt, forcing the abdication of Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian czar. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924).

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Indian RevoltWhich made me wonder about India?

Introduction on a site created by Megan Barry in December 2006 as a student at The College of New Jersey, for “Changing the World: One Song at a Time” Professor Elizabeth Borland.

The Indian Independence Movement began in 1857, and lasted until 1947. Before the beginning of the movement, India had never known political freedom. Foreign rulers had occupied the country for its’ entire history. By the time the British took over the area, the natives of India had grown restless with having no say in any political decisions. The natives also were subject to racism and the enforcement of Christianity by the British. The first major step that the Indians took towards their freedom was forming the Indian National Congress. This, along with other things that embodied patriotism, showed the British that the Indians were serious about achieving their freedom.

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Recorded HistoryWhat are the milestones of this evolutionary revolutionary process?

This amazingly comprehensive list of incidences and links is another marvel of Wikipedia. It is indexed by date from BC in the oldest broader strokes down to decades in the more current time.

Just to get you started, in or around 2740 BC the Set rebellion during the reign of the pharaoh Seth-Peribsen of the Second Dynasty of Egypt took place.

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Thoreau at WaldenWho might have some guiding light to shine upon all of this?

This site which is focused on Henry David Thoreau and ‘Civil Disobedience’ is thought provoking and provocative. Perhaps in some way it brings the whole question of honoring American Independence Day full circle.

The slavery crisis inflamed New England in the 1840s and 1850s. The environment became especially tense after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. A lifelong abolitionist, Thoreau delivered an impassioned speech which would later become Civil Disobedience in 1848, just months after leaving Walden Pond. The speech dealt with slavery, but at the same time criticized American imperialism, particularly the Mexican–American War.

Thoreau asserts that because governments are typically more harmful than helpful, they therefore cannot be justified. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice.

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Zen Master with StudentsWhat will we make of all this?

One of my favorite Zen stories is of a Master and his students. One day a particular boy who was jealous of his Master’s wisdom and authority decided on a plan to embarrass him in front of his students. He had devised a plan with a few of his fellows to which the Master must truly fail. He would have in his cupped hands a small bird and he would ask the Master, ‘Is the bird in my hand alive or dead?’ If the Master answered, ‘It is alive,’ with the slightest squeeze the bird would be dead. He would open his hands and prove the Master wrong. Likewise if the Master answered, ‘The bird is dead,’ then the boy would open his hands, the bird would fly away and the Master would be proved wrong. At a gathering time when all were present, the boy approached the Master. His hands were cupped and in them he held a small bird. He asked the Master, ‘I have in my hands a small bird. Is it alive or is it dead? The Master looked intently into the eyes of the young man and after what seemed the longest time for the boy, the Master responded, ‘The answer is in your hands.’ The boy dropped his arms opening his hands. The bird flew away and the boy walked away despondently.

About David Mills

David is the Founder, Catalyst, and Co-creator of Workplace Hidden Opportunities. Workplace Hidden Opportunities is an information management Specialized Knowledge Platform™ (SKP™) focused exclusively on the workplace and corporate real estate. Together with the W100 a book by the same title is in progress.
This entry was posted in Art, Balance, Cause and Effect, Change, Consider This!, Independence Day, Life, Present Moment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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