You may have heard of this already. I am spreading the story not to shame, but to edify.
Every July 4th for the last 29 years, an NPR program reads out the full text of the Declaration of Independence. (We all remember this is why we celebrate July 4th, I hope.)
This year, NPR decided to throw the experience out to a wider audience by tweeting out the full text of the Declaration of Independence as well. Obviously, this had to be done over many, many tweets.
A few people did not react well, because they did not understand what was going on.
With the barrage of tweets, a few thought that NPR’s feed had been hacked. This concern may have been heightened because the text did not sound right or look right to modern American sensibilities (word choices, spellings, randomly capitalized words), since it was the original text from over 200 years ago. They definitely did not recognize the text being tweeted as that of the Declaration of Independence.
A few of the others who did not recognize the text assumed that this was evidence of some propagandist agenda on NPR’s part, i.e., that since the tweeted text talked about a ruler over-reaching and had revolutionary terms, that NPR was encouraging “resist” movements, “anti-Trump” propaganda, or actual revolution. One tweet indicated that this was why PBS was being defunded.
Now, this was far from the majority of responses to the tweets. It was only a relative of the responses. Most people appeared to completely understand what was being tweeted.
Further, at least one of the persons who responded negatively later apologized to NPR and everyone else. However, in that apology it was pointed out that the average American would not necessarily have known that the text was from the Declaration of Independence.
I bring this up not to criticize. The person had a point. I can believe the average citizen in America does not know or recognize the text of the Declaration of Independence. The person also pointed out that he or she sure knows it now.
Instead of pointing fingers, feeling smug, angry or chagrined, let’s instead focus on correcting that. The article I linked also has the full text of the Declaration of Independence appended. Take a look.
Contrary to the one tweet, this is exactly why things like PBS need to be funded. So, we can all learn. NPR’s goal in educating people about the Declaration of Independence and appreciating its words was attained, because even those that objected probably now know better. Education was achieved.
Personally, one of the first things I did when I acquired a smart device years ago was to look up what e-books I could get for free. When I saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were free, I added them to my bookshelf immediately. Take the time and do the same for yourself, if possible. In fact here are some links to the texts online, as well.
Declaration of Independence:
U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten Amendments to the Constitution):
This is not about blaming people or laughing at them or criticizing them. This is about learning from an experience and being better. All of us.