As luck would have it, I found myself celebrating Independence Day this year at the La Jolla home of Dr. Walter Munk. Of course, there’s no way I would have been personally invited to what I’ve been calling a genius festival, but there I was, riding on the coattails of the brother sister combo providing musical entertainment for the shindig — Matt and Jasmine are old friends from high school whose brother happened to be one of the geniuses invited to the genius festival, hence my fringe attendance.
Dr. Munk and his guests were very welcoming, and of course, interesting to chat with, but the thing that struck me above all else about the celebration (aside from the amazing blufftop home Munk and his wife Judith had designed and built in the late 50s), was that a reading of the Declaration of Independence was one of its key features.
Most of my Fourths of July past have been spent consuming various meat and alcohol products and watching fireworks, but it had never really occurred to me to delve into the holiday’s deeper meaning. I guess it took hanging out at a genius convention at the home of a guy who had been called on by the US military to provide wave forecasting during Normandy and other amphibious invasions for me to engage in that sort of reflection. Munk is what most of us would call a patriot! Of course, there was plenty of memorabilia around the house giving silent testimony to the man’s years of service to his country. I can’t help but admire people like that.
At any rate, there was a little kernel of the Declaration that caught my attention as it was being read — something that holds relevance today.
“[The King of Britain] has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”
Although I can never be 100 percent certain of exactly what the Founding Fathers meant by that (we lose so much context with the passage of time), perhaps I can apply it to today’s immigration problems. Demographics, resource distribution, and landmasses have changed pretty drastically in this country since 1776, but maybe we could use this little passage as an impetus to treat our hardworking illegals a little more nicely. I know, I’m a bleeding heart, but the folks who risk all to cross the border and start a new life want the same things all of us do: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.