The spirit of 1776 in 2024

0
567

Some of my friends and family have encouraged me to put down some of my nonfiction books and consider reading more fiction books as a way to relax and explore new perspectives. Recently, I finished reading Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley. It was just released in May 2024 and is attracting a lot of positive attention. The book puts a new twist on time travel by bringing historical figures to the present day through a time door. It’s a fun book that has a little of everything in it as the historical characters try to adjust to modern times. Reading the book got me wondering what our Founding Fathers would think of our country and society today if they were transported to modern times.

Mary Catherine and Joe Domaleski at the 2024 Camp Southern Ground Ruck & BBQ event. Photo/Joe Domaleski
Mary Catherine and Joe Domaleski at the 2024 Camp Southern Ground Ruck & BBQ event. Photo/Joe Domaleski

Obviously, we can’t transport the founders of our country in time, but we can engage in a thought experiment. With Independence Day coming up on July 4th, I thought about the Declaration of Independence – that beautifully written and uniquely American document which gave official birth to our nation. Let’s explore the key parts of the Declaration of Independence and their relevance today by considering the spirit of 1776 in 2024. Every attempt will be made to refrain from commenting on the sorry state of national political affairs. We’re going to focus on the Declaration document itself and its application to modern living in 2024.

A Bold Declaration

There’s nothing quite like it. The Declaration of Independence is a bold and audacious document. In 1776, the American colonies were challenging the most powerful empire in the world – the British Empire. The Declaration begins with a clear statement of intent: the colonies are dissolving their political ties with Britain to assume an equal standing among the other nations of the world. This bold declaration wasn’t wishy-washy. It wasn’t merely an act of rebellion but a direct statement about a people’s right to self-determination. Today, this spirit of boldness is seen in various movements advocating for social, political, and environmental change. The courage to stand up for what is right is an American legacy that continues to this very day. I do think our Founding Fathers would be proud of our willingness to stand up for just causes, but they would probably not understand “ghosting” and people who shy away from directness and candor. This applies to our business and personal lives as well. Just as the Declaration articulated a clear direction and purpose for the future, business leaders can benefit from having a well-defined vision and mission. This clarity can drive motivation, align efforts, and inspire innovation.

My Spirit of 1776 takeaway from this is to be bold.

Unalienable Rights

The Declaration famously asserts that all men (people) are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These words have echoed through the centuries, forming a core feature of distinctively American values. In 2024, the fight to protect these rights is as vigorous as ever. Debates over healthcare, education, and equality continue to this day. These unalienable rights serve as a guiding principle for policymakers and citizens striving to create a more just society. In our work life, this means creating an environment where employees and customers feel valued, respected, and free to express themselves. Leaders should see to it that workplace policies and practices promote work-life balance, mental health, and career satisfaction. Doing so can lead to a more engaged and productive workforce.

My Spirit of 1776 takeaway from this is to strive for equality and recognize that everyone has a basic set of rights.

Efforts to Resolve Issues

Before declaring independence, the colonies made numerous attempts to resolve their grievances with the Crown. They sought a peaceful resolution through petitions and appeals to British authorities, which were met with indifference or outright hostility. This aspect of the Declaration highlights the colonies’ preference for peaceful reconciliation before resorting to violence. Yes, we eventually had to resort to armed conflict as a nation, but we didn’t start off that way. Today, this legacy encourages us to pursue diplomatic and nonviolent solutions to conflicts and domestic disagreements. Unfortunately, many in society seem to have forgotten this concept of nonviolence. In modern times, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. espoused a similar nonviolent approach. Seeking resolution without violence is appropriate for the marketplace as well. Collaborative problem-solving and mediation can help maintain a harmonious work environment. Encouraging open communication and fostering a culture where grievances can be addressed without fear of retaliation are essential for organizational health.

My Spirit of 1776 takeaway from this is to seek peaceful resolution of disagreements when possible without resorting to extreme actions.

Stating the Issues

The Declaration meticulously outlines the colonies’ grievances against King George III, providing a detailed account of the injustices they endured. This clarity and specificity helped to galvanize support for the independence movement. In our current era, the importance of clearly articulating issues remains critical. A “rebel without a cause” is not likely to succeed. From political campaigns to social justice movements, the ability to clearly communicate grievances and demands is essential for mobilizing support and effecting change. I’m reminded of the failed “Occupy Wall Street” movement from several years ago that fizzled out because there wasn’t a clear statement of issues or purpose. Transparency and accountability in addressing problems are as vital now as they were in 1776. This works for businesses too. Clearly stating challenges and goals is crucial in any professional setting. Whether it’s presenting a business case, proposing a new project, or addressing team issues, being able to communicate clearly and persuasively is vital. This clarity helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively to achieve common objectives.

My Spirit of 1776 takeaway from this is to be clear and specific when working towards a common purpose.

Me (second from left) with my son-in-law Connor McKinlay (third from left) and members of the Fayette County Fire Department atop Stone Mountain for a 9/11 Memorial Event. Photo/Joe Domaleski
Proud to be an American. Me (second from left) with my son-in-law Connor McKinlay (third from left) and members of the Fayette County Fire Department atop Stone Mountain for a 9/11 Memorial Event. Photo/Joe Domaleski

The Result of These Issues

The Declaration culminates in the assertion that the colonies have the right to be free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown. This decisive action was the result of the unresolved issues and grievances that had reached a breaking point. The successful struggle for independence set the stage for the creation of a new nation founded on democratic principles and individual liberties. Decisive action is important in professional growth and organizational success. This might involve making strategic decisions, taking calculated risks, or implementing changes to improve processes and outcomes. Being decisive can help professionals seize opportunities, overcome challenges, and drive progress. In 2024, we continue to build on this foundation, by addressing ongoing challenges and upholding the values of freedom and justice at work and within society as a whole. The willingness to take decisive action when necessary remains a hallmark of the American Way.

My Spirit of 1776 takeaway from this is to be a decisive leader.

Conclusion

As I reflect on the spirit of 1776 in 2024, it’s clear that the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence are as relevant today as they were over two centuries ago. The boldness of our Founding Fathers, their commitment to unalienable rights, their efforts to resolve issues peacefully, their clarity in articulating grievances, and their decisive action continue to inspire me. By applying these principles to our personal and professional lives, I believe we honor their legacy and continue to build a nation rooted in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. So, as we celebrate Independence Day, let’s remember the Spirit of 1776 and how it applies in 2024. How can we do that?

  • Be bold
  • Strive for equality
  • Recognize peoples’ rights
  • Be clear and specific
  • Seek peace when possible
  • Be decisive

Happy birthday America. I don’t always understand you, but I do love you very much.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25+ years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. Joe is a recipient of the Peachtree City Rotary Club Business Leader of the Year Award for 2024. Sign up for the Country Fried Creative newsletter to get marketing and business articles directly in your inbox. You can connect with Joe directly on LinkedIn for more insights and updates.]