The room was dimly lit by the candle light. Hours had passed, although it only seemed like minutes since the author had sat down at his wooden desk. He worked late into the night that evening trying desperately to pour out his heart onto the paper. For two years this passion and emotion had churned inside his soul until he couldn’t contain it any longer. He had to do something to release the tension in his spirit.
This tension had cost him too many hours of sleep. It had cost him relationships. It had aged him well beyond his mere thirty-three years. He was a haunted man. For far too long he’d battled the roaring fire within himself. He knew there was more. He knew things could be different. Something had to be done. It was time.
On the night of July 3rd he wrote these words that have shaped the world ever since:
“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
With a pen and paper, young, thirty-three year old, Thomas Jefferson set into motion a series of events that would reshape the known world. He put words to his passion and everything changed.
For two years Jefferson and the other impassioned, impactful men of the colonies likely talked about what to do. They hypothesized and theorized on how to change their situation. Men like Ben Franklin, George Washington and others. It was Jefferson, however, who initiated the action. It was Jefferson whose passion and dissatisfaction finally boiled over and he couldn’t hold it any longer. He had to do something.
In fact, many in the American colonies had been feeling the same feelings. The undercurrents of a revolution were strong but there had not, up until that point, been any sort of compass to orient the people. Jefferson’s words did just that. Two months later when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in the streets for the first time it unified the resolve of every American and the rest… is history.
Look closer at the end of the passage above: “… a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.”
Allow me to paraphrase. The most respected of men are those who are courageous enough to put words to their desires and take action.
In other words, Jefferson is saying that men who wish to make an impact and garner the respect of others should be bold enough to cultivate the passion within themselves and leverage it to make a difference in the world around them.
My question for us today, some two hundred and forty three years later, is what’s stopping you from doing the same? What is the dream in your heart that keeps you awake at night? What injustice in the world breaks your heart? What are you so afraid of that you’re willing to live in mediocrity versus taking a risk and pushing for greatness?
Is there something in your soul screaming for independence? Is it time to put words and life to it? Is it time to take an action?
Jefferson had no idea what his words would lead to, but he was willing to risk almost everything to follow the passion in his soul. What about you?