July 4th in the Age of Uncertainty

Maybe our descendants will recall our era as the Age of Uncertainty given that current definitions of perception tend to serve as either eternally debatable theories or revisions of what we thought we once knew. Subatomic elements are defined by distance, not close proximity, and although dark matter might account for over 80% of all the matter in the universe, we can’t even see it. We only infer that it exists. Gravity is as theoretical as ever, perhaps just a sliver of one dimension among an unlimited number of others, and we’re barely beginning to examine the vagaries of the human brain at the neurological level, where all this speculation begins and ends.

Independence Day faces ongoing scrutiny as well in our Age of Uncertainty, and understandably so. Initially, The Declaration of Independence promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness mostly just to white male property owners despite Abigail Adams’ entreaty to her husband John to “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.” Thomas Jefferson predicted the Civil War because The Declaration tacitly accepted slavery at the state, and therefore national, level. For many dispossessed citizens, the American Dream was just that — a dream.

Still, no matter how unstable our personal and universal notions of reality might be, something tethers us to Earth regardless of how we define gravity, empirical evidence indicates that large bodies of water once covered Mars, and smoking causes cancer. Likewise, our Founding Fathers shaped The Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights into rationally defined but flexible documents designed to endure historical vicissitudes. Ultimately, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 19th Amendment guaranteed all American women the right to vote, and the American experiment in democracy and representative republic established in 1776 continues to reshape human consciousness in profoundly positive ways. In light of all this, it’s hard to imagine a better national celebration than the 4th of July. Happy Birthday, America. Keep being who you are.