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. — The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Though not a legally binding document, it is the powerful underlying voice behind the birth of a nation.
Replace instances of men with people. Not just all men are created equal, but all people. And all people are equally endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, all people. Red, yellow, black, white, brown, male, female, young, old, middle-aged, rich, poor, healthy, sickly–none of that matters because we’re all one of the same.
As we’ve all been taught beginning with elementary school history, the impetus leading to the American Revolution and the creation of our Declaration of Independence was taxation without representation by the British Crown. A bit simplified, perhaps, but that’s the general gist drilled into us from day one. Though independence was declared in 1776, it was not recognized by Great Britain until the fall of 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
All done in the name of the rights to life, liberty, property, assembly, and trial by jury–rights the majority of Americans take for granted and people worldwide still have to fight for over 240 years later!
Let’s think about that for a moment. All people have the right to life. All people have the right to liberty. All people have the right to property. All people have the right to assembly. All people have the right to trial by jury.
Can you think of any people whose rights to any or even all of those were denied? Trampled on? Diminished?
Yet year after year we celebrate the attainment of those rights by the white colonists who didn’t find it in any way ironic that they’d denied the very same to the people who occupied this land before them?
Or to the people they brought into slavery here?
And even today, continue to deny those rights to people coming here for the hope and promise of such?
That’s just the beginning of my thoughts about Independence Day 2018.
How about the second part of that quoted excerpt:
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. — The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
What’s going on in America right now?
Turn on the news or pop onto any reputable news agency website to see stories about any or all of these: Immigrant detainment and internment camps, separation of families, unjust deportations, lack of due process, denial of adequate food and housing, a government pandering to the top 1% and forsaking all others, false representation, denial of basic rights, a President who leads with threats and fear tactics, and a systematic dismantling of an entire nation and its founding principles. To name a few.
I have to say: I’m just not feeling very celebratory.
I am feeling a bit like it might be time for another revolution.
After all, this government doesn’t seem to be working for the ends for which it was established anymore and We the People have the Right to alter or abolish it.
(Right after we respond to that latest newsflash about whateverthehell the Kardashians are doing, whateverthehell Meghan Markle is wearing, whateverthehell secret menu item is raging at the nearest fast food joint, whateverthehell the next iPhone is going to be like….)
Full text of The Declaration of Independence
For even more reading fun: The Constitution of the United States