Fireworks & Declaration
The fireworks at the edge of our lake are done. No, I am not referring to the aerial detonations of the Fourth of July, but rather the dramatic burst of seeds that shoot forth from the Marsh Marigolds, Caltha palustris. Early in the spring we have a few violets here and there that also spew their seeds into the air, but our largest display of plant "fireworks" comes from the Marsh Marigolds signaling the arrival of summer. This exploding method of seed dispersal is fascinating and fun to watch, but it definitely makes seed collection a bit tricky! The most explosive aerial seed show will occur at the end of summer when the seedpods of Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, also known as Spotted Touch-me-nots ripen. To see what I am talking about, click the image to the left.
In addition to the Marsh Marigold explosions, today the 4th of July celebrations, picnics, fireworks and maybe some time with family and friends are now also behind us. And although all of those events were entertaining and enjoyable, today is a good day to step back and think about the origins of yesterday's fireworks-focused celebration. Today our challenge is to find a way forward to honor the words of those incredibly intelligent and insightful individuals who changed our destiny 243 years ago in Philadelphia. In addition to all the usual activities, one of my favorite things to do on the 4th of July is to listen to NPR's reading of the Declaration of Independence. In this year of elevated political, environmental and human rights turmoils, I find the words of this amazing document ringing as loud and true as the Liberty Bell itself. It is important to revisit this document and to "fact check" how well we are still holding to its ideals. It seems to me that the Declaration of Independence is calling for change and due diligence. I find myself wondering how I can become as an effective dispersal of the "seeds" of democracy as the Jewelweed is of its seeds. Below are a few excerpts from one of our most living documents. Click the image to the right to hear the audio recording from NPR.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
And particularly worth our contemplation are the following excerpts from The Declaration of Independence. Try and remember as you read that these statements that they were about the injustices that the Colonists suffered under King George. Hmm, sounds awfully familiar.
"...is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them."
"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."
"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."
"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries."
It may be time to reacquaint ourselves with the words and actions of the founders of our democracy.