We celebrate our nation for its promise of liberty
Tomorrow, we Americans celebrate the Declaration of Independence. Our main focus is on what the document meant — creation of a new nation. But that’s not all.
“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 single sentence from the Declaration is familiar to many Americans, as well as to freedom-seeking people the world over.
After that, the Founders proceeded to explain just what they meant. The Declaration is specific about grievances against England. The Founders were listing behavior no free people can tolerate.
Much of the Declaration emphasizes the people’s right to having a voice — and authority — in how they are ruled. Other sections point out the dangers of big, powerful government. In some ways, King George III and the Parliament of 1776 would have been astonished at the power, reach and intrusiveness of our own government today.
Note that now, as well as then, every new power assumed by government is justified with the claim that we, the people, need to be safeguarded against some real or imagined threat to our freedom, prosperity and security.
Recognize also that the Founders wanted only freedom to engage in the pursuit of happiness. They never intended that government would guarantee it to us.
Those who, like English officials in 1776, would deceive us by claiming that intrusiveness into our lives is for our own good should read one of the key provisions of the Declaration. Whenever any government becomes destructive of the ideals set forth in the Declaration, “it is the right of the people to alter and abolish it,” signers of the document declared.
What we celebrate, then, is both a declaration of intent and a warning to those who would infringe upon our liberties.
Happy Independence Day.