Words matter. They hold a vibration, a sanctity, and create reality.
Last year I visited Washington, DC, and walked through many memorials and museums. Pausing at the Jefferson Memorial, I read each word inscribed on the stone walls.
I was blown away by the depth of the words and wondered where the inspiration came from. I met another part of Thomas Jefferson that I had no idea about.
This surprised me. I don’t feel connected to America from a “patriotic, this is the best place on the earth” perspective. I also discounted the role of the Founding Fathers given their involvement with slaves and the American Indians. They were no saints and sure had their human weaknesses.
But something happened at the Jefferson Memorial. I put aside my preconceived notions and simply remained present in reading the words such as:
“Progress of the human mind, enlightened, truth discovered, the god who gave us life, gave us liberty, almighty god hath created the mind free…all attempts to influence it…are a departure from the plan of the holy.”
I thought to myself, “People in political positions and/or leadership don’t use these words today.” Jefferson had intention and connection to a higher power to be inspired by such words.
And around the rotunda- "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
What moved me the most were the words from the Declaration of Independence, where Jefferson was the main author. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Do you realize what this means? Imprinted in the American psyche since 1776 are these words. No one can take away our God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is profound, but…Jefferson could have added two more sentences for clarity.
First. What is liberty? It is the freedom to do anything which does not cause harm or injury to another.
Second. In the acceptance of these absolute rights, responsibility is required. That each individual is responsible to pursue happiness in a self-reflective, virtuous way. For without responsibility, freedom becomes reckless.
Fast forward 247 years. The same freedoms given to all of us as individuals are what is dividing our country. Everyone is free. Freedom to do whatever people want to do.
Reckless Freedom is dangerous. Responsible Freedom is evolutionary.
Reckless Freedom revolves around me, me, me, my way or the highway, humanity, what’s that? The word compassion seems meaningless. There is an identity crisis of who am I and what is my purpose on the earth. This results in feeling unsettled and surviving at all costs.
The positive intention was there in 1776, but where humans lack is in the implementation.
We see Reckless Freedom all around us as well as in both political parties of our government. This might explain why public trust is at an all-time low. Power-hungry people who are concerned about winning, keeping the lobbyists happy, and doing what matters for personal agendas.
No longer can we, the people of the United States, rely solely on elected officials in leadership positions. They have their baggage to deal with and most cannot think beyond their personal desires, egos, and power-hungry ways.
Let’s look at the bright side of this reality. When public trust in the government is low then it inspires us to not rely on anyone outside of ourselves. We have the opportunity to go within. To turn Reckless Freedom into Responsible Freedom.
Real freedom is the responsibility to know thyself. To take steps to be free from that which holds you back and shuts down your ability to be fully open and love. To know your thoughts, words, and actions and how they impact others and all of life that surrounds you.
When we do the necessary self-reflective work, we commit to taking responsibility to know why we do what we do. To know the depths of our being and what happiness means for us. Then we can take the power back from outside ourselves to within.
And to say, I am responsible for how I show up in the world. First, how I relate to myself, then how I relate to my family and loved ones, and then how I relate to the world around me.
The world outside of us will never change until we first change the world within ourselves.
On this 4th of July, start with YOU. Access the innate wisdom within yourself. This is the ultimate guide and the ultimate freedom.
As in the words to the song, "My Country Tis of Thee" - Long May Our Land Be Bright with Freedom’s Holy Light. Let freedom ring within your own heart. Then you will know the meaning of E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many One.
Many states made one nation in 1776. Today in 2023, many people can make one heart. A heart that beats for everyone to see in each other that we are all the same, we are all connected and desire the same ideals. Just as our Creator bestowed on us life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness so too can we bestow this respect on others.
Thomas Jefferson, the third President, in his memorial. He died on an auspicious day, July 4, 1826. It is interesting to note, the second President of the United States, John Adams, died on the same day. John Adams was also on the small committee to write the Declaration of Independence.
The words he wrote in the Declaration of Independence. It was a small committee to start, led by Jefferson. The committee of five: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.