This year, I celebrated the Fourth of July alone in Beijing. Many people who know me will know that I'm a huge fan of the founding charters of freedom of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, and The Bill of Rights (click for the full text of the documents). While this has always been true, I value the true foresight and values encoded in these amazing documents by The Founding Fathers even more living outside the US, particularly in a country that is founded on a different set of values.
If you haven't read these documents recently, I urge you to do so. They are as meaningful and powerful 234 years later and perhaps even more applicable as peoples and governments around the world struggle with the definitions of nationhood and the balance the rights of individuals with broader needs. I also hope our elected officials remind themselves of a few things, that the role of government is to secure our unalienable Rights and that the government derives "their just powers from the consent of the governed." Finally, I hope we all really take a moment to appreciate and deeply value what we as Americans have in the form of these documents. Even today, billions of people have nothing like them in principle or in practice.
In addition to the links to the full texts of the documents above, I've included a special link to the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence performed by the hosts, reporters, newscasters, and commentators of NPR. I found it even more moving than just reading the text.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone, and Happy Birthday, America!