The award-winning author, David McCullough, published John Adams in May, 2000. In 2008, the book was made into a mini- series that received wide acclaim.
Through these accounts, I came to admire so much about this man as well as his wife, Abigail. The frequent letters they exchanged in the long absences of Adams from his home in Boston were especially revealing.
Adams’ contributions to the Second Continental Congress, during which he argued with passion, brilliance, and courage for a system of government for this new land that held out the highest principles of individual freedom and human rights were so inspiring. I think I learned more about our young nation’s struggle for independence through the story of John Adams than from any other resource in my life.
As a nation, we gather each July 4 to remember those days at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia in 1776, when 56 patriots signed the Declaration of Independence. While Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration, Adams fiercely advocated for its adoption. And in May, 1776, it was John Adams who offered a resolution that amounted to a declaration of independence from Great Britain.
As Christians, the foundation of our principles of social justice rest on our belief in the dignity of each person without exception. Accordingly, each person is deserving of respect and has fundamental rights as our Nation’s founding documents proclaim. Yet, it seems to me in our come-day-go-day life we see much that is un-American.
Our Freedom, Saint Paul reminds us, is a gift from God and is to be used, not so much for self-gain, but rather for self-giving. In fact, freedom is most noble and deeply honored when witnessed in actions of generosity and sacrifice. Such actions are seen every day and all around us, notably in families in the care of parents for children and spouses for one another.
As our communities and nation become increasingly diverse economically, socially, racially and culturally, perhaps we all need to recall and ponder the greatness of the vision of John Adams and our Nation’s Founders:
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.
This 4th of July, let all of us who are blessed to live in the United States give thanks to God for the gifts of our freedom and prosperity, and for the many who have labored heroically to build our great Nation. And let us all remember to put into practice the values on which this great Nation was founded and proclaimed in the Gospels, among which is to treat one another with the respect each of us deserves.