Fourth of July


“If we abandon equality, we lose the single bond that makes us
a community, that makes us a people with the capacity to be free
collectively and individually in the first place.”
–Danielle Allen
Director, Safra Center for Ethics
Harvard University


Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Danielle Allen, African American classicist and political theorist, begins with “The Declaration of Independence matters because it helps us see that we cannot have freedom without equality.” Allen goes on to explain that from a commitment to equality people in relationship emerge and that our everyday choices about personal connections become vital if we are to scale equality to the size of the United States of America. I find her ideas particularly compelling as the Fourth of July approaches.

Earlier this summer, in my letter responding to the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, I suggested that we will be a better community and that we will help one another grapple with the effects of this massacre if we reach out to one another to listen and to empathize. At Crossroads, listening and empathy are valued highly and are virtues that contribute to the relationships we build and share as a community. We are, perhaps, contributing to the kind of equality and freedom Allen describes in Our Declaration in our own small and important way.

Current events in our history might contribute to our sense pride and possibility as well as to our sense of pain and injustice. I hope that all of us find ways to celebrate the pride and possibility while still honoring what remains hurtful or unfair, and I hope that we carry our experience of freedom and equality into relationships with those whose experiences are different from our own.

With great expectations,