The Fourth of July is a happy time of year. The weather is warm, the days are long, kids are on summer break, people are celebrating outdoors and getting ready to watch the fireworks throughout the country. But every year, it’s not these mundane trappings that define the holiday for me.
As an immigrant and a naturalized citizen, and perhaps an oddball, I have been fascinated and drawn deep into my adopted homeland’s history. I have spent a lot of time reading Founding Era documents, watching documentaries, listening to audiobooks, and everything that I have learned so far reinforces this idea in my head: America is the Ground Zero of Liberty.
The American revolution is what started it all. Prior to 1776, the world was ruled by men, not ideas. The revolution shook the world and overturned long-established notions and norms of how humanity ought to live. In a remarkably short period of time, the ideas of liberty, the rule of law, and self-governance took the continent by storm. An unparalleled array of leaders and thinkers gathered, debating and building their ideas, with Thomas Jefferson’s quill writing down the indelible words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”
The thinkers were backed up by doers too. Their deliberative pens were matched with courageous swords, as George Washington led a ragtag army through moments that portended defeat to eventual victory.
What followed was remarkable. The American Revolution didn’t result in a bloody counter-revolution or horrendous infighting. A Republic was founded, and it still stands today. It has lasted through some incredibly difficult moments, erased the stain of chattel slavery at tremendous cost and marched on, spreading its founding principles in ever-widening circles to include marginalized communities and wave after wave of immigrants.
The biggest impact of the American Revolution, however, was on the rest of the world. It is important to acknowledge the derision, mockery, and condescension that other countries have for America. However, what these countries don’t understand is that their own modern freedoms can be traced back to America. This country’s history is certainly nowhere near as ancient as that of China’s or India’s, but its government is the longest standing government on the planet. As the colonies won their freedom and established self-governance under a written Constitution, people in other countries, first in Europe, then elsewhere, began to make note. They demanded, fought for, and got the same basic freedoms that Americans had.
Sometimes, the process was roundabout as was the case with India, my country of birth. Lord Cornwallis, after getting defeated at Yorktown, was sent to India. He had tremendous success in building British dominance, and India eventually came under total British control. It was ironically through the British transmission of ideas that India ended up with a parliamentary system, and it was from directly studying the U.S. Constitution (and other countries’, which were also influenced by the U.S. Constitution), that India’s Constitution was written.
It is, however, with a tinge of sadness that I note that large swathes of the country have a clear inferiority complex. There are far too many people here who look up to European countries and Canada and think poorly of their own. To them, I say this: Be grateful for America. This country is incredible, welcoming, and introspective to the point of being irrationally self-critical. It is entrepreneurial, daring, and bold. It is charitable. And as for its flaws, it has mechanisms and processes for course correction when the citizenry wishes so.
It is not because of a convert’s zeal that I write this, nor is it the pompous piety of an immigrant. I believe in America, I am thankful for the American revolution, and I urge my fellow Americans to look at the country in totality and appreciate it.
Happy Independence Day, and Long live the Republic!