From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171956/year-begin-world-over-again#
John Nichols on January 1, 2013
was called into being not with mere cannon fire or musket shots but
with ideas, with words that inspired yeomen farmers and small
shopkeepers to throw off the physical and mental yoke of empire.
Thomas Jefferson offered some of the finest words, in a Declaration of Independence that proposed the radical notion “that all men are created equal.” Elizabeth
Cady Stanton and the Seneca Falls Convention would extend the
Jeffersonian promise by opening their Declaration of Sentiments with the
line: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.”
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would further bend the arc of history
with his declaration: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise
up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ ”
the truest imagining of the American prospect came not from Jefferson
but from the writer who the third president said did “with [his] pen
what in other times was done with the sword.”
Thomas Paine electrified
the colonies with a call to action that promised much more than mere
independence from the British crown. Much more, even, than basic liberty
or cherished freedoms.
Paine promised that a United States,
founded in revolution against the British Crown, could become the city
on a hill that would inspire all the peoples of all the world to reject
the brutish repressions of empire, to throw off the barbarous hands of
prejudice and superstition, to usher in an age of reason and justice.
“We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth,” wrote Paine in the seminal work of the American experiment, Common Sense.
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation,
similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until
now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps
as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of
freedom from the event of a few months.”
It is not merely good but
indeed necessary to remember, on this and every New Year’s Day, that we
still have it in our power to begin the world over again.
Continue reading at: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171956/year-begin-world-over-again#