But the world in 1776 was very different from the one we live in today. Global population was less than 1 billion, and the American wilderness beckoned. Today almost 8 billion people draw resources from a finite, shrinking planet. In today’s world perhaps a different set of qualities characterizes true American patriots.
Prof. Sallie McFague thinks so; she’s Professor of Theology Emerita at Vanderbilt University. McFague identifies Sam Adams and others as exemplifying qualities she calls the Individualistic Model. In this model the rights and desires of each individual are foremost. But in today’s world Prof. McFague suggests that something different, an Ecological Model, best characterizes true patriots striving to fashion a livable future.
The Ecological Model contrasts markedly to that which served Sam Adams so well. It acknowledges that humans do not control nature, but rely on it completely. In it, we partner with nature for every breath and bit of food instead of trying to dominate it. This model has 3 basic “house rules” including:
1. Take only your share.
2. Clean up after yourself.
3. Keep the house in good repair for future occupants.
The Ecological Model doesn’t belittle the importance of the rights and desires of individuals. It just asks us to stick to the house rules. And that’s hard to do with our consumption-driven economy constantly urging us to buy, buy, buy. But it’s certainly less threatening to life and limb than taking on the mighty British Empire!
So this Independence Day let’s honor the sacrifices of Sam, George, Paul, Ben and the others by maintaining a healthy nation and viable future where the pursuit of happiness is within everyone’s grasp. The Ecological Model may be just the road map that can get us there because the only home we’ll ever know is right here. After all, we’re forever…Earthbound.