“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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. “ 
Last week we refreshed our memories of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration said there were self-evident truths. It goes on to say that we are all created equal, no excluded groups of people. Yet, we continue to value one life over another. We continue to believe that it’s OK to segregate people so they will be “safe, appreciated, and loved.”
I do this work with the bias of my grandmother, one of the greatest patriots you would ever meet. She showed her patriotism in multiple ways. She had a flag pole cemented into her front yard, celebrated every patriotic day, and stood on the porch singing ‘God Bless America’ along with Kate Smith on the boom box at our annual family reunion picnic.
No one was excluded in our family. There were expectations of everyone to participate and it was all set in motion in a seamless way. We never had to think about how we could include my family member who had ambulation difficulties, we just adapted spontaneously. That adaptation on the fly meant the approach was natural, individualized, respectful, and strength-based.
A few weeks ago I met Phil. Phil is one of three brothers, all of whom have some developmental challenge with Phil as the primary caretaker, who came to live with us in a community living home. After some years with us, he decided he wanted to live on his own and we helped him achieve his goal. Then, he found love, and a few weeks ago, he got married. When speaking about his brothers, he talks the same way I do about mine. He says he is happy to visit the one brother, who is getting the care he needs and goes on to say that he could never live with the other. He talks about one person he dated before he met his wife adding how unkind she was to him. He speaks with joy about his everyday life. He has the American dream…a new life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Much like common sense is uncommon, self-evident truths are not so self-evident. It is our responsibility in this country to use our freedom of speech wisely. It is our responsibility to explore possibilities in life, mobilize the resources which liberate us so that the dreams for happiness we all have, dreams which may change over time, are empowered.