America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. A place that yearning masses long for and struggle to be. We are STILL the Light shinning forth out among the Nations of the World, offering hope, and establishing an ideal. We are that to which others turn in time of need.
It would do us well to remember a bit of our history. And on the 4th of July what better place to start that remembrance than with our “Declaration” to the world, The United State Declaration of Independence.
First, let’s step back a bit from there, after all there is always that ever-present question of ‘why?’. Certainly anyone that even remotely remembers a history lesson from school can remember the phrase “No taxation without Representation.” It’s one of those ‘building blocks’ of our nation. But it’s reason to be isn’t quite as well known. And as used to high taxes as we are today we may not even appreciate the importance of the idea.
Britain had gotten in dept. Britain wanted to do things that cost money. Britain thought that we here in “the Colonies” weren’t paying our fair share. Britain levied Taxes. We got mad.
At the time many here thought that our only ties with Britain should be through our allegiance to the King (Crown… let’s not be sexist here). Other than that, we should be considered separate entities, or States… 13 separate little countries if you will. Troubled brewed. They tried to make tea in the Boston Harbor… I won’t bore you with the details, but Britain got P.O.ed.
Needless to say it all became a big todo and in 1774 the British government passed what is referred to as the “Coercive Acts” a punishment for the brouhaha. We (the Colonies) got P.O.ed. Many saw it as a threat to our liberty… resulting in boycotts and petitions… none of which were successful. Britain held the power, we were just the people. (…anybody note any similarity at all with what’s happening with our government today?)
Anyway. A bunch of what we like to refer to as Patriots today (even though that does little to describe the huge jeopardy these people were placing themselves in at the time…) got together and after wrangling around a bit passed a Resolution of Independence on July 2nd, 1776. That resolution officially severed our ties with Britain. (Note here that the New York delegation didn’t vote on the resolution… they weren’t authorized to authorize yet… politics, you understand) John Adams declared the July 2nd would become a great holiday!
After resolving our independence those men turned to the problem of how to declare such to the world. On July 4th, 1776 a document was approved. The United State Declaration Of Independence.
“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.” And so it began.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Important words from an important document from our great countries history for sure. But in the body of the text… the ‘meat’ of the matter… we find the words that we should more take to heart from the document. It is what it is. And it is the basis for which we are what we are. And we should hold our government accountable to the words and ideals of the thoughts on the men and the reasons they took the dangerous steps they took to give us our beginning as the great nation that we are. And why we hold forth those “Unalienable Rights”.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The leaders of our country should remember these words, and weigh them with the actions of their governance. We ARE a great country. We have the greatest people. We are that shining light, and that beacon of hope. And that too should be remembered.
Our government is of the people and by the people… for the people. And it is up to the people, not the government, to guard our freedom. We can’t be lazy, and expect others (the press) to stand watch for us. We can’t be apathetic, expecting others (the legislature) to do our will while we ignore what happens. And ignorance of the realities around us can destroy the country that we think we have. We could suddenly look up one day and find those “unalienable rights” a thing of the past. Nothing is guaranteed. Not even the Constitution, if we aren’t vigilant in our own guard of it.