A reminder to be proud of democracy


My July 4 began, like every Sunday since the pandemic, with a Zoom session with cousins ​​from around the world. Cousins ​​joined us from Canada, Argentina, Israel and France.

Our conversation began with a discussion of our Declaration of Independence and its promise that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed … with certain inalienable rights … among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. … That governments (owe) their just powers with the consent of the governed… ”

All my cousins ​​have in common the fact that our grandparents or great-grandparents were emigrants from the Russian Empire seeking the promise of freedom, liberty, equality and dignity.

We then moved on to each country represented in Sunday’s Zoom.

On July 1, Canada celebrates Canada Day in recognition of its right to autonomy on July 1, 1867.

The French have their Bastille Day on July 14, celebrating a major turning point in the revolution on July 14, 1789, leading to its First Republic.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish state in its ancestral homeland. Israel’s Declaration of Independence, proclaimed on May 14, 1948, provides that the government of Israel “shall be founded on the precepts of freedom, justice and peace” and “shall defend the full social and political equality of all its citizens. regardless of race, creed or sex; and calls on its Arab inhabitants to play their role in the development of the country “with full and equal citizenship”.

Finally, Argentina celebrates its independence from Spain on May 25 to commemorate the revolution of 1810 which gave birth to Argentina’s first government.

We turned to a discussion of our respective holiday celebrations. My cousin Sheila from Toronto thought about the feast of nature muted because of the recent discovery of hundreds of bodies of First Nations children buried secretly in a schoolyard. They were among more than 6,000 deaths of 150,000 First Nations children, brutally treated in private schools they were forced to enter from the 1800s to the 1970s.

We shared our sadness and ruminated on the dark times of the democracies we live in, but we also remembered to be proud and not to overlook or forget the progress of equality and dignity, however slow and uneven. -they.

My wife and I went to the Opera House to attend a choir and band honoring America. It was a lively, uplifting, patriotic and moving musical celebration of songs including “This is a Great Country”, “This is My Country”, “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Take Care of This House”.

Back home, I emailed my cousin Sheila, writing:

“As my patriotic emotions flowed, I tempered them with your reminder that our words, our music and our freedom are ambitious and that in many ways we have fallen short of those goals. So I remembered Martin Luther King’s speech that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it leans toward justice” and from that I have hope for the future world. It allowed me to enjoy my party.

I concluded my email with my desire that my Canadian family find meaning in Canada Day, that my French cousins ​​find value in National Day, that my Argentinian cousins ​​appreciate their declaration of independence and may my Israeli cousins ​​continue to move forward with the resounding endorsement of Israel’s Declaration of Independence for the equality and dignity of all its citizens.

Harold Halpern is a retired lawyer residing at Lakewood Ranch. He is a member of the board of directors of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and the West Coast section of the American Jewish Committee.