Spirit of ’76

photospiritof76cafeWelcome to the Spirit of ’76 Cafe. 

A centerpiece of the Declaration Project is the Spirit of ’76 Cafe dialogue initiative, where we’ll explore, in a ‘Socratic way,’ questions related to the themes of many of the declarations posted on the Declaration Project.

Questions like: What should we be willing to risk “our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honour” for today? In fact, that’s the first question we’ll explore on our  Facebook group. To participate, please click the link below. Join us and get democratic!


 

Spirit of 76 Facebook discussion group  < Join Us by clicking here, starting July 2, 2015!

When is it our right, our duty, to throw off existing Government, and to provide new Guards for our future security? ...

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Where do our rights come from? Nature's God? ...

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What rights (if any) are inherently held by all people because of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”? ...

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Is all power vested in the people today, as the Declaration says it should be? ...

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If you were enumerating 'a long train of abuses' against whomever you think is today's version of King George (e.g., the government, big business, whatever or whomever), what would your grievances be, and why? ...

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Here is the scathing indictment against slavery, and against King George's for perpetuating it, that Thomas Jefferson penned in his draft of the Declaration of Independence:

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another."

Jefferson's fellow members of the Second Continental Congress (according to Jefferson, at the behest of delegates from states that benefited from slavery and the slave trade) promptly excised Jefferson's handiwork and replaced it with something far more ambiguous, a grievous against King George for causing "domestic insurrections among us."

What if Jefferson's original passage condemning slavery had remained intact? Do you think it would have brought an end to slavery much sooner in the U.S.? Might it even have had a global impact on slavery?
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Today Aug. 2 is the anniversary of the date in 1776 that most delegates of the second Continental Congress signed the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence. An auspicious occasion to launch into a new Spirit of '76 inquiry.

Back in the day, the tyrant was King George (in cahoots with Parliament). Modern declarations that are adapted from our original usually point either to 'big government' or to 'big corporations' as today's version of the tyrant against whom we have to declare independence.

IS there a tyrant today, whether a person or a faceless monolith like the federal government or huge corporations, impeding our right to be governed with our consent, and against whom we should declare independence? Let us know your thoughts.
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The goal with Spirit of ’76 Cafe, as with all our Democracy Cafe dialogue initiatives — Socrates Cafe, Constitution Cafe, Democracy Cafe, 1st Amendment Conversations with Cops, you name it — is to  spur thoughtful inquiry and exploration among everyone from activists across the political spectrum to the politically apathetic. Ideally, for many participants, this will serve as a spur to greater civic action.

As you know, we’re not into debates of a sort in which someone ‘wins’ and someone ‘loses’ — we’re into inquiry, exploration, investigation, of a sort in which all participants ‘win’ by genuinely listening, learning, sharing.

Hopefully you and others immersed in this and the other elements of the Declaration Project will be inspired to develop and discover ever so much more about your views, thanks in some measure to the unique version of the Socratic Method that our exchanges feature. It’s really a method and ethos combined that makes it possible for diverse participants often to discover uncommon common ground, and can foster stronger bonds in ways that lead to more inclusive civic engagement.

Join us in our exchange today — and help us demonstrate that it’s possible to have thoughtful, respectful, impassioned online exchanges.

 

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