THANK GOODNESS IT’S MONDAY #208
– PLUS ONE
On the Fourth of July I like to think about what the Declaration of Independence means to us in these “modern” days. So, once again, I’m posing –
An Independence Day Challenge for you: Make your declaration.
As I have in every TGIM I put out at this time of the year, I encourage you to take time between the hot dogs and fireworks and whatever to re-read (or read for the first time) the document those 56 signers pledged themselves to. I vote for reading aloud and sharing the duties with family and friends.
TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: To do this you don’t have to be Nicolas Cage and steal the original National Treasure … or dig out your old American History textbook … or slog through Thomas Jefferson’s 18th Century handwriting, (though it’s not that difficult and there’s something extra inspiring in the original document). Print out an easier-to-read printer-ready copy from the National Archives.
And as you read, consider:
Would you have signed this Declaration?
Some of you may be old enough to remember –
In 1975-6: The People’s Bicentennial Commission sent out ten pollsters who asked twenty-three hundred federal employees to endorse a paragraph that read: “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. …” They came up with some rather startling results in a survey.
Maybe you guessed: Sixty eight per cent of those approached not only did not hold these truths to be self-evident but in fact found them decidedly subversive and refused to sign. Forty-seven per cent of those polled did not recognize the passage as part of the Declaration of Independence — but of those who refused to sign, 83 per cent did recognize it.
More modern history: A decade or so ago, in a survey conducted in New Hampshire, one of the original 13 colonies, only six of every ten adults knew we celebrate the Fourth of July because it commemorates the signing of this document.
As the prolific thinker and writer Norman Cousins (1915 –1990) observed:
The American Founding Fathers — the writers and signers of this remarkable document — believed deeply –
- in the ability of a human being to learn enough in order to take part in self-government;
- in the capacity of people to make sense of their lives, if given reasonable conditions within society itself;
- in the responsive power of men when exposed to great ideas;
- in people, to stand under the due process of law;
- in man, to make basic decisions concerning his religion or his politics or anything else — again, given the conditions that made this possible.
There were 56 signers of the document we treasure. These few days before we celebrate the document they inscribed it’s interesting to take a look at the composition of the group and note what we today have in common with them.
- They were of varied backgrounds, ages and experience.
- Some were already famous – Franklin, Adams; some were unheard of, recruited at the last minute as replacements for men who refused to support independence from England.
- Two of the signers were only 20 years old; sixteen were in their 30s; twenty in their 40s; eleven in their 50s; six in their 60s; and only one, Franklin, over 70.
- All but two were married. Each had an average of 6 children.
- Twenty-five were lawyers; twelve were merchants; four were doctors; one a preacher; and the old, famous one could call himself a printer.
- Half were college graduates; some were self-educated.
There’s more – much more – to note about them, of course. (There’s a spectacular recap of “who was who” among the 56 and what became of them HERE.)
For our purposes: Allowing that it was the 18th Century and they were all white men, the “nutshell” summary above covers enough bases to lead us to this –
TGIM Takeaway: Could this, with the added advantage of 21st Century diversity stirred in, be the makeup of, say, your local Chamber of Commerce … or Networking group … or PTA … or 14 people who live each way from you in the four compass directions — immediately North, South, East and West?
Sure it could. This was America. And it is America at its best.
Listen, America: This July 4 please take time to remember that the freedom we celebrate was hard won by people just like you and me — and how easily it can be lost. In 1776 few of the 56 benefited from their bravery, but not one recanted his original declaration of independence.
Hats off to all the American people. And to celebrate this July 4 I’m joining the signers of the Declaration of Independence HERE. Will you, too?
Alexander Publishing & Marketing
8 Depot Square
Englewood, NJ 07631
P.S. One more patriotic note. You can probably recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But did you know that, in 1918, Congress adopted The American’s Creed which its author, William Tyler Page, described as “a summing up, in one hundred words, of the basic principles of American political faith. It is not an expression of individual opinion upon the obligations and duties of American citizenship or with respect to its rights and privileges. It is a summary of the fundamental principles of American political faith as set forth in its greatest documents, its worthiest traditions and by its greatest leaders.” Here it is:
I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
P.P.S. The driving principles of the Best Year Ever Program are much like the message of this TGIM: You must be responsible for your success … Change comes from within … All improvement begins with self improvement. To dig deeper, check the information at the right.
GEOFF STECK leads Alexander Publishing & Marketing, a company he formed in 1986. The core AP&M mission: To create and publish leadership, sales mastery, self-improvement and workplace skill-building resources and tools. The focus: Areas such as business communication, staff support, customer care and frontline management. Geoff also puts his corporate and entrepreneurial experience, independent perspective, and skills as a catalyst to work for other firms (ranging from multinational corporations to more modest operations), not-for-profits, and individuals who have conceived or developed programs or initiatives but are frustrated in getting them implemented.