Can we -- Americans of the twenty-first century -- secure those Enlightenment ideals of self-government for ourselves? It is fitting that we pause now, during this "Prelude to Independence," and rededicate ourselves to this nation's humanities heritage.
Both sides will trot out their heaviest weapons and we either will or will not get stricter gun control regulations. Whichever side wins, if this ends up being just about gun control, the public loses.
The president's calculation today seemed to be that the occasion presented a chance, perhaps a last chance, to recall the political system to what Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, called the "better angels of our nature."
It's one thing to articulate an audacious new vision for an embryonic democracy, it's quite another for Jefferson and his colleagues to actually make it happen -- given the fiercely independent mindset of the original colonies.
Even though the American economy is recovering -- albeit slowly -- these are still stressful and trying times. We need to move from that begrudging process of recovery to renewal in the belief in America and the American dream. How important is hope to that renewal?
Self-proclaimed Hindus ought to have a position on the centrality of class and caste. While Hinduism is known for its tremendous diversity, for "Hindu" to be useful category, there has to be some religious claims and teachings that are agreed upon by all who proclaim to be Hindus.
In President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage, he has in effect "edited" and enhanced Jefferson's classic dictum to avow, unequivocally, all men and women are created equal. It may be the last major civil rights action of our time.
Democracy in Washington's Farewell Address is a fragile thing. It is subject to the whims of public opinion, to the pull of parties, to the selfishness of generations, to the propensity of humans to make mistakes.