I listen to a reading of our country’s founding document and think about what brought about our independence from Great Britain 228 years ago.
When I’m at Howard Mesa, I listen to the radio every morning. I listen to NPR, National Public Radio. There are actually three NPR frequencies I can get here: on from Phoenix that is repeated by Prescott, one from Flagstaff, and another from somewhere else.
This morning, during Morning Edition, I heard some familiar words: “When in the course of human events…” I soon realized that the radio staff was reading the Declaration of Independence.
It was a moving reading — if such a reading could ever be considered moving. The radio staff took turns reading paragraphs from the document. They each put emotion into what they read, as if they were the people making these claims, the people injured. I’ve read the Declaration several times, but I believe this is the first time I really understood it.
Imagine the east coast of the United States as thirteen colonies under the power of a King far away. Communication between the colonies and the King took weeks (if not months) in those days. The people of the colonies feel that they are being mistreated by the King. They write a document that clearly argues their point, listing dozens of offenses committed by the King against them. That’s the Declaration of Independence.
I can only imagine how that document must have pissed off King George III when he finally read it.
Reading the Declaration gives you a unique view of life in the American Colonies in the early 1770s. It was a time when people truly cared about freedom — because their freedom was limited. It was a time when people considered taxation without representation — because it simply wasn’t fair. It was a time when people who cared about what was right and wrong actually stood up and did something about the injustices they saw.
A bit different from today, when people care more about what celebrities are wearing than what’s being voted on in Congress.
Anyway, this morning, when I spoke to Mike, I mentioned that I’d heard the Declaration on NPR. Do you know what he said? “I heard it, too. It was great, wasn’t it?”
Looks like I picked the right guy after all.