Happy 237th birthday, America

Happy Fourth of July. The United States of America turns 237 years old today.

Thanks to the wisdom of the founding fathers — such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin — who created a government for just over 2 million people (estimated population of the colonies in 1776), this great nation still stands the test of time after more than two centuries, and now serving more than 300 million people.

And it all began because a relatively small number of adventurers organized themselves into 13 colonies along the Atlantic coastline and stood up to the most powerful nation in the world.

It’s difficult to overstate that remarkable achievement.

Imagine months of heated debate about how to create a brand new system of government leading up to the Continental Congress, where representatives of those 13 colonies found compromise and agreement. They wrote and signed a Declaration of Independence. It was the first step toward a sovereign nation.

Consider the foresight and intelligence of those early Americans to conceive of such a system of government, one that would someday serve the most powerful nation on Earth.

We can’t imagine today’s Congress achieving anything of such significance. Today’s political leaders can’t agree on a farm bill, let alone how to treat millions of people living here illegally. It’s sad, compared to our magnificent beginnings.

And yet, in these troubled times around the world, as many people in many nations struggle to achieve the freedoms modern Americans sometimes take for granted, let us remember that the United States of America is the longest-lasting and most successful democracy in history.

Whether you are hosting backyard barbecues, playing family softball games or heading down to Tumwater for the grand fireworks display, let’s celebrate the great nation given to us by our founding fathers and commit to constructive civic engagement.

Our birthday wish for America includes a capacity for greater human kindness and political harmony, less extremism and civility in disagreements over a shared goal to sustain this grand social experiment, that it might prosper and endure.