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, having 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 shown 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. Such has been the patient suffrance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."
Two centuries, one score, one decade and two years ago (232, if you haven't figured the math out yet), a group of men from all the 13 colonies gathered in Philadelphia during the month of June and into early July, to draw up what was to become one of the most (if not the most) important papers ever written.
The Declaration of Independence!
The first two paragraphs above are the first and second paragraphs of that wondrous document that is truly the cornerstone of this great nation. I chose to copy only those two tonight simply because I think most everyone has heard or read either all of those two paragraphs or at least several of the sentences in them.
I think this particular sentence is probably the one most of us remember in part or perhaps some have memorized this entire line.
"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."
Over those past 232 years, many hairs have been split over the words that "all men are created equal" as some take it literally that it only applies to men whereas many others read it to mean "all men" as to be inclusive -men and women, alike.
And very few have never heard -or quoted "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." either, I'd be willing to wager.
And yet, I wonder at times how many of us realize -and follow -the value behind those words. Really think about them and really apply them -almost like a patriotic Bible of sorts, you know? Do you? Do I?
Sometimes, I think we tend to slough them off a bit -those are just old words, written a long, long time ago and gee, do they really apply to me, in my life today?
Just as so many of us can quote phrases from the Bibile or paraphrases of verse - "Do unto others, as you would have done unto you" is a classic example -where we can say that but do we really practice what it preaches? Some refer to that as simply the Golden Rule, others will recognize and site where that is written in the Bible but all too often, just as we forget about "all men being created equal" we also just give lip service to the above words too.
Perhaps today, we should take time to sit and think about those words, their importance to each of us in our daily lives, to remember the many struggles that took place during the Revolutionary War, leading up to the formation of the United States of America, our Constitution, and Bill of Rights and the importance of them, along with the Golden Rule that give us the government, whether we agree with those who administer that government today or not, we have today.
Regardless of the current political climate, these are what we should remember, what we should practice, what should be our guiding stars.
Over those two centuries plus a few extra years, as a country we have come very far. We've also, as a country, made mistakes too -and we still do because after all, those in charge are only human and remember "To err is human, to forgive, divine." Weigh the good and the bad and determine from that which takes precedence and realize in the grand scheme of things, we do still have one of the best methods of government today. I didn't say "perfect" -but it is one of the best, if not THE best!
I don't know about anyone but myself here -my feelings -but I'll take the United States, for better or worse, any day of the year!
And, I'll try to put more of a conscious effort forth as well to give thanks for those men who dared to come forward, who drew up this wonderful declaration that gave us the foundation of what we have today.
It truly is America, the Beautiful, in oh, so many ways!
Happy Birthday to all of us as we celebrate the Fourth of July -in freedom -today.