Jefferson was living in Philadelphia when he dipped his pen in an inkwell and wrote, “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.”
In his recent annual address to shareholders, Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett devoted the first half of his speech to America’s history, beginning with the Declaration of Independence. “When you say the word ‘self-evident,’ that sort of sounds like you’re saying any fool can recognize that,” said Buffett. “What we wrote in 1776 wasn’t a fact, but it was an aspirational document, and we have worked toward those aspirations. We have a long way to go, but I’ll repeat… never, ever bet against America.”
He went on, “It took us a long, long time, and it’s not done yet. But I think it does give meaning to the fact that we are a better society with a lot of room to go.”
In other words, it’s not so much how great America is today. But rather, what makes America great is its ability to address mistakes and become better. It was 150 years before women won the right to vote, but change did occur with patience and perseverance.
So as our country recovers from a pandemic, a recession, social unrest, and divisive politics, let us teach our children and grandchildren the great lesson that we can fix our problems and become a better nation. We must continue to aspire to the vision of Jefferson’s words written so long ago….
Happy 244th Independence Day!