INDEPENDENCE (Article) by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on June 30, 2021)
On July 4th, 1776, the delegates from the thirteen colonies voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence as penned by Thomas Jefferson. The Revolutionary War had been raging for almost a year by that time. As the war began in April 1775, few colonists were in favor of total independence from the mother country. For over a decade the colonists had felt that the increased taxations by the British government were unfair and coercive, especially since they were denied equal representation in the Parliament. They were hoping for some compromise from the mother country. Instead of addressing the grievances of the colonists, the British responded with more force. By June of 1776, more and more colonists had become convinced that independence from Britain was the only option.
The Continental Army, consisting of poorly disciplined militia men and citizen-soldiers, was up against a well-trained and experienced British Army. The odds were not in the favor of the colonists. To make matters worse, the soldiers were not being paid well, were lacking basic supplies and food, and many were simply walking off the battlefield. Nonetheless, they came together under the leadership of George Washington to become a formidable foe to the redcoats. Was it Washington’s great leadership? Was it the French support? Although both had a big part to play, the ultimate answer lies in the growing conviction of the colonists that independence was worth the fight. In his book 1776, David McCullough quotes Mercy Warren, the famous patriot and pamphleteer, “no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as among Americans” (McCullough, 291).
Many in America today feel that our freedom and rights are being increasingly stripped away. Some are torn between the need for compliance and the feeling of encroachment. Others are calling on their political leaders to speak on their behalf. Most Americans, like our forefathers, would much rather work things out and live peaceably than fight back. This 4th of July, my prayer and hope are that we, as the American people, will continue to fight for our rights and freedoms that we have enjoyed for the past two centuries with kindness and understanding. As Paul reminds us, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21).