On Independence Day, it is right and proper to acknowledge and grieve for the ways in which we, as a country and as individuals, have failed to live up to the ideals of our founding.
But this does not mean that the ideals are not worth working for; it does not mean that they are impossible; it does not mean that incremental steps, bit by bit over decades, do not happen.
Yes, we backslide. Yes, we surrender too easily. Yes, we allow our fear and anger to overcome our hope and compassion. Yes, we forget our duties to our compatriots and to the community of nations.
Through all of this, there stands the goalpost, set in our soil by a man far less-than-perfect himself:
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men" (and women, we tell him) "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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
A thunderbolt, in its day. And even today, if this is all we stand for, it is a marvelous thing. It is a goalpost we miss more often than we hit. But it is there, and we try for it. We always tr y.