Founding Fathers would demand: ‘Right the wrong’

Independence Day: July 4th. Wave the flag. Set off fireworks. Celebrate.

For many people, patriotism is easy. All it takes is being born in a country, something everyone accomplishes. Then, wow, what a great country. Wave the flag. Set off fireworks. Celebrate. USA, Albania, France, Australia: it doesn’t matter.

But Lincoln wisely said more than just a “new nation on this continent” was founded. He described it: “Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” This was unique at a time of monarchies, theocracies, castes, feudalism, aristocracies, censorship and the like.

The Declaration of Independence did not claim sanction by divine guidance, but, reflecting the rationalism of the Founding Fathers, instead purposefully explained its basis and reasoning because, as it states, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

July 4th is a day for Americans to recall not only the long fight for independence which succeeded the declaration, but the revolutionary thoughts, ideals and goals of our forefathers who broke from engrained tradition.

It truly was a revolution in thought. Soon after, the French had their revolution, much along the same philosophic lines, and abolished the aristocracy, the accepted calendar, state religion, etc. It was a tumultuous time, much more than simply separating from England.

So I think it patriotic to demand more from my country, to earn my patriotic zeal, than just the accident of being born here. I think it appropriate each year to reflect upon what remains to be done to achieve political liberty and equality for all. Rather than slaver unconditional praise, I choose to exercise my political liberties to advocate for further progress of my country toward those goals.

The Founding Fathers would, I believe, expect much more than “My country, right or wrong.”

They would demand: “Right the wrong.”

•••

Jed Somit is a resident of Kapa‘a.

8 Comments
  1. Westside Resident July 4, 2020 7:18 am Reply

    Earn your patriotic zeal??? Who do you think you are? How many toiled to clear and plow the fields of this great nation? Not for equality, but for liberty! Not for a pay check or an entitlement, but for establishing a nation! How many braved the wilds, fought back enemies, carved out safe haven at great risk?

    The nation doesn’t earn your zeal. Doesn’t need your zeal. It needs your respect. It didn’t break from tradition, it broke from tyranny. And it remains a nation under God.

    “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”


    1. james July 5, 2020 7:29 am Reply

      You miss the point. If you own a business and your employees fail to do their jobs, they get fired. Politicians and government employees work for us, the taxpayers and voters of this great country. It is our right to hold them accountable for their job performances. These employees need to respect us, their bosses, not the other way around. When they fail to do the job the majority of citizens want them to do, they disrespect us as well as our country.


  2. Kauaidoug July 4, 2020 8:19 am Reply

    Mr. Somit , beautiful and uplifting words of wisdom on the 4th of July. We forget that one of the most unique things about our stars and stripes is that it not only represents a country
    but it stands for a revolutionary ideal! It is hard to imagine a world where this idea had never existed before that we know of, that all humans were created and born equal.
    We are still working on the implementation but at least we can keep our eyes on the prize this 4th.


  3. curious dog July 4, 2020 9:16 pm Reply

    Perhaps we should ask Queen Liliuokalani how she feels about “Patriotic Zeal”. How about the Indian nations who were rounded up & interred on reservations…those who didn’t die of smallpox? Or worse, those killed for $5 a head. The slaves? Come on, who are you kidding Mr Westside? America was founded on the backs of black & brown lives & no amount of “braving the wilds” can hide this fact, unless you happen to have your head buried in the sand.

    Jed Somit was right on the money & America has a great reckoning if we can’t get past our ignorance. Read Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech if you dare. Anyone who wasn’t a rich white male gave a river of red gold & the “treasure” that was lost in order to create a nation is immeasureable….from 1492 to present-day.

    Come on People….enough fireworks already. Let’s start reading Mr. King’s speech on the courthouse steps every 4th of July. Fireworks come from China. Freedom comes from the heart.


  4. James Kuroiwa July 4, 2020 9:26 pm Reply

    We in Hawaii also celebrate the 4th of July 1894, similarly to the 4th of July 1776 when the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain. Hawaii’s July 4, 1894 was the declaration of independence and freedom from the Kingdom at the adoption of the Republic of Hawaii’s Constitution replacing the 1887 Kingdom of Hawaii’s Constitution. The Republic of Hawaii’s Constitution made “all” who were born or naturalized in the Republic Hawaiian citizens and equal. For Kauai, two individuals well known to my family, Mr. William Hyde Rice and Mr. George Norton Wilcox, besides others from Kauai, served on that Constitutional Convention from March 15, 1894. It was 126 years ago they provided all of us Freedom and Independence as Hawaiian citizens. Today, that Republic is the State of Hawaii.


  5. David Brian Phillips July 5, 2020 8:02 am Reply

    If the Declaration of Independence doesn’t claim sanction by Divine guidance, then what is “Nature’s God” in the first paragraph, “their (our) Creator” in the second paragraph, and “the Supreme Judge of the world” and “divine Providence” in the final paragraph claiming?


  6. Gary Duerst July 5, 2020 8:50 am Reply

    Jed,

    I’ve known you for many years now, and know you to be a good guy and generally quite intelligent. Therefore, I find it quite amazing that you seem so ignorant of history that you would presume to think that the Founding Fathers would say “Right the Wrong.” Rather, as they did, they would say “Cut the best deal you can,” as they realized that politics is the art of the possible and one person’s perceived wrong is another person’s perceived right.
    Persuasion, not laws, is required to evoke major societal change – and insulting those who disagree with you is not the way to win hearts and minds.

    What the Founding Fathers would probably say to both the Left and the Right now is climb down off your high horses (they were into horses!) and find the middle ground that no one loves but that we all can stomach.


  7. Larry July 5, 2020 3:08 pm Reply

    “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”
    often attributed to Carl Schurz, 1872. German immigrant, Civil War General, U.S. Senator.


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