… Today, as we light up our grills and load up the beer coolers or head to the beach and make ourselves picnic ready, let’s us reflect a moment on these words from the Declaration of Independence.
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.
And we typically stop reading there. Because the pursuit of happiness sounds like a mighty fine thing. It’s our unalienable right to pursue happiness, by God and Country, and how dare anyone try and impede that happiness or my right to it.
God bless, ‘Murica!
The problem is, a lot of folks think happiness is defined by doing what we want, any time we want without consequence or regard to others.
Aside from being a very narrow, pathological definition of happiness, the Declaration of Independence goes on to say a whole lot more important stuff. That stuff being very timely to our current political climate.
The Declaration of Independence is just that. A declaration; a formal or explicit statement.
Stating and declaring what? Independence.
Independence from what? Tyranny.
It’s not a Declaration of Happiness or the pursuit of it. It’s not a Declaration of Do Whatever the Hell You Want. It’s a declaration of independence from tyranny. It’s this independence that is the cause of our joy. Our freedom as a nation, as free people, is the source of happiness.
It’s such an important document that Abraham Lincoln considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy. Lincoln thought the Declaration’s principles should be the same principles used to interpret the United States Constitution.
And yet most of never read beyond the first sentence and use it as their right to self indulgence.
To celebrate this Fourth of July let’s read on a little farther.
“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…
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.“
And here we are today, being forced by our government, who knows better than we do what’s in our own best interest, to submit to the whims of their own “transient causes”. And if you don’t accept their causes as law then you are a bigoted, racist homophobe who deserves to lose your job, be audited by the IRS, have your possessions seized, and be publicly castigated and bullied.
All your rights are belong to us.
Which is a greater pursuit of happiness — unquestioning obedience to the government, or practicing your right and duty to throw off such government to provide new guards for future security?