We celebrate this year’s Fourth of July holiday at a time when millions of people in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen are at various stages of their own struggle to replace dictators with some form of democracy.
It’s a good reminder that the fight for liberty has always required courage. In our own case, 56 men we now call our Founding Fathers risked their lives and fortunes and pledged their sacred honor when they issued one of the great political documents in human history: the Declaration of Independence.
Not all were noble visionaries dedicated to the great principles of democracy, though quite a few were, including John Adams and his cousin Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.
But the men who joined together in a momentous act of treason against England genuinely and consciously engaged in a grand act of moral courage that resulted in the realization of a political ideal that still stands as a great symbol of democracy, the most inherently ethical political philosophy known to man.
And the risks were real. Some signers died or were wounded in battle. Some were captured. Some saw their sons killed or captured during the war. And some had their homes looted or burned.
So, when we barbeque and watch fireworks, we ought to take a moment to remember that what we have is built on a foundation of moral courage and character.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.