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Truth, Tolerance and Other Guiding Principles for Our Independence Day Reflections

Truth, Tolerance and Other Guiding Principles for Our Independence Day Reflections

Mohandas Gandhi said, “My commitment is not to consistency. My commitment is to the Truth.” I have always liked this saying. It isn’t that I think Gandhi was advocating “flip flopping” on topics or issues. But, I believe he was making the assertion that if the facts or even our understanding of the facts and possibly our own progress through our own evolutionary process is now different from when we first held an opinion about a topic, then we should let the Truth be our guide, not our adherence to something that may no longer serve us or our world.

In addition to the Truth, I also like to use the concepts of Compassion, Tolerance and, ultimately, Unity, Oneness and Love as guiding principles for my beliefs and actions.

There are many many issues that face Americans and all of humanity right now that could be viewed as crises. Some of these issues are economical, others political, some social, some ecological and most affect how we treat each other financially, politically, socially and ecologically.

I believe all these issues would have different arcs of evolution if we used Truth, Compassion, Tolerance, Unity, Oneness and Love as the guiding principles instead of just contracts, laws, treaties, traditions and holy books or philosophies of any of the world’s religions.

As Americans are celebrating our 239th year of when our forbearers declared independence from Great Britain, when was the last time we each looked at the words of the Declaration? I always find reading the Declaration of Independence a moving experience. In what other document or tradition, do we find this statement so eloquently stated and benevolently used to guide how we wish to assemble, treat ourselves and treat others? (And, yes, I realize we have not always lived up to the standards stated in this sentence.)

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 statement does not imply that a majority of the people need to agree with you in order for you to have the right of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Sometimes, I believe that we have inferred that we must fit into the societal norms in order for us to access our right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Or perhaps more to the point, others believe we need to fit into their view of societal norm in order for us to have the right of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness equally applies to those whose opinions and beliefs are more liberal, those whose opinions and beliefs are more conservative and to those considered “swing voters” every four years. To paraphrase the Bible, the rain falls equally on the left, the right and the center.

This is why I believe we need to dovetail in the principles of Truth, Compassion, Tolerance, Unity, Oneness and Love for each other as we look at laws, agreements, contracts and treaties in order to determine our own actions. These ideas can help us discern our way forward regardless of the issues and challenges that present themselves to us, our country and our world.

May this Independence Day be a time of reflection on what Truths you hold to be self-evident.

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