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.Excerpt from The United States Declaration of Independence
What makes that statement beautiful and purposeful is the humility it took for the Founding Fathers of the United States of America (USA) to write it. They did not claim to be perfect, however they did acknowledge all mankind was under the authority of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” They understood that truth trumped any power any human selfishly claimed for themself for the purpose of ruling other humans. They knew it was time to declare these self-evident truths:
- There is a God and our human wills are called to be subordinate to His will.
- We are given, by Him, certain rights that can’t be taken away from us by other humans, namely:
- The right to life;
- The right to live free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views;
- The right to seek to attain happiness in life.
They knew that by fighting for a new, albeit imperfect, country was the only chance to be free from the tyranny of the King of England. They knew that if the colonies were successful in winning that fight, then the foundation for a country of hope would be formed. They also understood winning independence would not be the end but the beginning of “fighting the good fight” for those “certain unalienable rights.”
Whether we realize it or not, these truths are the “secret thread” that holds the USA together. They are the commonality that is more powerful than any human-derived power. They are what ultimately what holds our disparate group of people together, despite our imperfections and flaws. They are our country’s calling.
How do they do that? I believe there are two parts to the answer.
- Americans are ultimately held to a 200% accountability standard. As Joseph Grenny eloquent states is his op-ed, Accountability is a Key to Changing Policy Culture, 200% accountability means I am not only 100% accountable for my own behavior, but I am also 100% accountable for everyone else’s behavior. Sure, some Americans try to avoid accountability, and some are even successful, but because the USA is ultimately under Nature’s God’s authority, in all things He is working for our collective good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
- Americans are also held to a joyful accountability standard, which is how Alan Mulally turned around Ford Motor Company. Joyful accountability sets the behaviors for which everyone is expected to have. If someone can’t do it, then it’s ok, they will still be loved. However, there will be consequences.
200% joyful accountability does not mean the USA is perfect. God knows we’re far from it. However, because of the wisdom, bravery, grit and humility of the Founding Fathers and the “secret thread” woven into our fabric, the USA is still the “shining city on a hill” and light to the world. This is why 244 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, these self-evident truths are still true.