Have you ever heard of the “Olive Branch Petition?” It’s not nearly as well known as the Declaration of Independence or the Declaration on the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms.
Great Britain and the American colonies had already had nearly a decade of conflict, but in 1775 things really began to escalate due to actual murders ordered against colonists by British commanders. Of course, the real physical confrontation had begun in April of that year, the famous ride of Paul Revere on the 18th, and then, the next day “the shot heard round the world” occurred.
However, many colonists still wanted to maintain allegiance to the British throne and avoid further deaths. Americans, though, would not compromise on freedom to conduct their lives as they saw fit.
Almost all colonists, radical to loyalists, felt the need to make a last ditch effort to appeal to the civility and commonality and consanguinity of their British brothers. This effort is seen in the Olive Branch Petition.
The document is a model of appeasement while putting blame squarely on those who bore it, i.e., America took no responsibility for the hostilities caused by Great Britain. The appeal was directly to King George III because America had previously found no relief or attention from Parliament. While the tone is conciliatory, the intent is clear: either through proper response from Britain or through war, America would have its freedom.
The expression was clear: “…the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find your faithful subjects on the continent ready and willing at all times, as they ever have been with their lives and fortunes to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty and of our Mother County.”
The “apprehensions” were those things the British ministers from the king were doing to incite warfare and create a submissive America: lies, broken promises, threats, ordered murders, unfair laws with no due process. Yet, here was the olive branch, an offering of peace, adopted July 5, 1775.
The wisdom of the Second Continental Congress displayed in this consists in the old wisdom of hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Arms were being stockpiled while plans were being drawn. This reveals a collective movement that was primarily guided by a fellowship of hearts. Either way, liberty would be had, but the preferred way was to eliminate destruction. Maybe it was more like hoping for the best and counting on it, no matter what had to be done to get it. Hearts don’t settle. Egos do.
Unfortunately, King George III would not even look at it, and Parliament rejected it. On August 23, 1775, George III declared that the colonists were clearly rebelling against Great Britain, opening the way for more wholesale military efforts to squash them. It didn’t work. When hearts work in concert, amazing things can be accomplished. America became the United States, no longer the thirteen colonies.
But such things rarely happen because of the ego. I must reference Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address here. How could a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” be in the condition that it is in now — an excitable, divisive one where reason is not shared, only video clips that result in quick, angry egoic responses from both sides of a situation? How can there not be an appeal, as Lincoln made, back to a beginning where all of this diversity was made possible?
By the way, did you know that Jefferson was overruled about penning the following phrase he wrote for the Declaration of Independence: “…against King George III for creating and sustaining the slave trade” and describing it as “a cruel war against human nature?” Yes, but the phrase was left in about the “merciless Indian savages.” These are the marring marks of ego associated with that great document, ego limitations to the grand purpose.
Lincoln, though, went back to that document, reinstated the good heart spirit part of it, and expanded it: “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln recognized that in 1863 the nation needed “a new birth of freedom.” Why? The original spirit had not been fulfilled. Those who had in the fellowship of the heart envisioned and co-created the nation had never seen it fully realized. Slavery existed. Mistreatment of Native Americans was rampant. Prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness still exist.
In order to realize a progressive, prosperous, happy nation, we must individually come to know Self, personal truth, and life purpose. In that knowledge, we are prepared to enter into those “unalienable rights.” Short of that, we live in the framework of a country where we will always be striving to find happiness, but it we will always elude us. We will be blaming one thing or another, including government and policies, for our unhappiness and infringements on what we see as our liberty, but that is the ego screaming in the background.
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can come to know their hearts. Very few nations in the world, though, from their establishment have the foundation that we do, a foundation that requires self-awakening to partake of all the benefits of the nation on a personal level.
We need to quit looking for heroes and saviors; we need to realize our own power. The heroes and saviors will appear when needed. We need to look within for true life, liberty, and happiness. That is the foundation of America.
We each have an Olive Branch Petition. We can accept that peace that our own hearts are offering us.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!