1,338 words

By Beacon Staff

Microsoft Word says there are 1,338 words in the Declaration of Independence. Who would have ever thought that 1,338 words could start a country?

Have you read those words lately? I have.

Last year, I promised myself that I would I read the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights every Independence Day. So far, I’ve kept that promise. You can find them at the link at the bottom of this article.

These documents remind me of things.

They remind me that, as I noted yesterday, we get the government we deserve – and that it is our duty as citizens to deserve and expect far better than we receive.

They remind me that sound bites, talking heads, bullet points and political rhetoric might be a part of our culture, and they might be entertaining or funny, but they are grossly inappropriate tools for governing ourselves – much less deciding who should govern our country.

They remind me that it is necessary to expect and require my representatives to be statesmen who, first and foremost, represent the needs of our community and its people, rather than their party and its leaders.

They remind me that if I do nothing and say nothing in response to a failure to properly represent my community, expecting that others will carry the load, then I am as much to blame as the representative whose efforts fail my community.

They remind me that no matter how strongly the actions of my government or my representatives anger me, it is possible to get my point across effectively in a civil manner – repeatedly if necessary.

They remind me that my failure to expect and require my representatives to do what’s right for my community, my state and my country – despite what their party’s leaders expect – is not treasonous or un-American – and that repeatedly doing nothing in the face of such behavior is an un-American act more dangerous than anything the representative might do.

Take a few minutes to read these documents. Rather than dissect them and use them as political weapons, try to understand them, their authors, the burdens they carried and the risks they took to write and sign them.

Your duty as a citizen is no less important than the duty the signers had over 230 years ago, but the difference between you and the guys who signed these documents is clear: You can still have an impact on what happens tomorrow.

I know that many of you have a hectic, overscheduled life. You’re busy. Who isn’t? It’s easy to think we should let someone else deal with it so we can relax, watch reality TV, and surf the net with our free time.

So before you think “I just don’t have the time”, think about this:

What if Thomas Jefferson “just didn’t have the time”?

Read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights

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