In the Course of Human Events

| July 01, 2022

We are today in the midst of human events that challenge the assumption that anything is self-evident. I write these words on a continent where, only 1,200 miles away, a brutal land war is raging. The small village where I am staying, Villefranche-sur-Mer, is constructed on the remains of dozens of fortifications ruined and rebuilt in a series of conflicts that took place over thousands of years.

The Ukrainians are showing us that they share with the Founders the desire for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The people of Hong Kong are also proof that these yearnings are not limited to any race, locality, or religious tradition. Mohandas Gandhis proved that 75 years ago. Haitians began their own revolution shortly after ours, throwing off the French yoke in 1804.

The desire for liberty is not unique, but overcoming powerful oppressors is. The French shed oceans of blood for a revolution that ultimately failed. Being in Europe right now drives home for me the incredible achievement of the American Revolution. We fulfilled the dreams of the ancient Greeks and Romans with a system that has endured for centuries.

Success for us seems so natural that we take it for granted. I know that I often do. The Ukrainians show us why we never should. We are indeed the “shining city on a hill” that John Winthrop dreamed of in 1630. Every day here in Europe reminds me of it. It also reminds me that I am lucky to be an American.

I shall be back in the USA when this letter goes out, and I intend to take the advice of John Adams. He wrote in a letter to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, that the Revolution should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Happy Fourth of July everyone!