Serious Beginnings

resolution for american independency

So it began. Today (June 8) was the first full day of debate in the Continental Congress in 1776 whereby the delegates took up a specific question of American independence. The day before a resolution was introduced which proposed American independence. And now comes the discussion, the arguments, the back-and-forth, the insults offered and those held back, the shifting of opinion from one side to another and often back again. In short, it was the beginning of the unbelievably messy work of republicanism, representative democracy, and the birth pangs of governing through consent of the governed.

It is also the beginning of a leadership situation that involves a group coming to grips with Major Change. Have you ever been involved in a group setting where that happened? It can be frustrating beyond the point of description.

As with any great story re-carved and recovered from the past–history, in other words–it is vital that you do two things. First, keep in mind that they have arrived at this point from their own before, from their own past. The delegates bickering over this resolution are doing so after, in some cases, decades of experience in various conditions of self-government. Second, they are working within the context and confines of events in the moment. The specter of the British military, for example, is not far off the coast of Manhattan and Long Island; that military includes a large number of hired killers reputed to be brutal and bloodthirsty. Beyond this pair of collective factors you have the traits and habits of each individual delegate to the Continental Congress. Taken together, it’s a swirling current of rushing water from this June 8.

It is the beginning of a serious and yet utterly unknown thing. Probably a lot like your life right now and probably a lot like the overall life of the United States right now.

And tomorrow is Thursday.