Dear America,

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday.  240.  Wow.  It seems like just yesterday that you were nothing more than a scrappy collection of British colonies, angry at the mother country, and determined to make your grievances heard.  When simple political protest did not work, you bucked up, grabbed your weapons, harnessed the genius cluster then fortuitously nestled there on your eastern seaboard — men like Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and the rest — and declared your independence.

That was the easy part.

You fought a war — the first of many — and won it through determination, diplomacy, and a willingness to do what was needed.  You came out of it a republic, something rare in those days,  and created what is possibly history’s most successful and structurally sound governing document — the U.S. Constitution.  At the time, many thought you would not last long, and would collapse under the weight of your competing component parts (the states).

You have proved them wrong — at least, so far.

Before you get ahead of yourself, though, you ought to keep in mind a few facts.  For instance, the British Empire lasted for roughly 350 years.  The Roman Empire lasted for 500 years.  The Byzantine Empire lasted for 1,120 years.  And, the pharaohs ruled Egypt for 3,000 years.

Pretty sobering, right?

Are we now, then, witnessing your teenage years, America?  Is that why we find ourselves in this state of national angst?  Is this your adolescent period, during which you “find yourself?”  Perhaps.