IN OTHER WORDS: Fourth of July

Wednesday was a working day in the rest of the world, and, for that matter, a working day in the middle of the working week. The Fourth of July, a day that is central to America’s sense of its own history, passes uncapitalised around the rest of the globe. It’s a local holiday, after all, never mind how large the American idea of local may be. But the idea of freedom is not local. It is universal.

Even in these very difficult times, four years deep into a war that has turned much of the world against the US, when some political leaders seek to arrogate the idea of freedom as their own political preserve, the universal freedom described in the Declaration of Independence remains a fundamental truth. The desire for freedom is part of human


America looks inward on the Fourth of July — not in introspection, but in an easy, comfortable sense of historical gratification. Yet this is a good day to look outward as well. It is a day to ask how good a job — from the world’s perspective — America is doing living up to the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, and whether it has done enough to make those sonorous old rights seem like more than a limited case in a limited argument. The answer is more equivocal than we like to believe. But the ideal is one that must drive us all.