241 years ago, the Declaration of Independence — a brilliant document written by Mr. Thomas Jefferson — was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. At war with Great Britain, the 56 signers announced the independence of the 13 sovereign states and that the American colonies would no longer be under British rule. The colonies seemingly operated independently for decades; this, no less, was the official decree…
“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.”
The Intramuralist is no historian. I come from a layman’s perspective at best. But even sifting through the historical papers and accounts depicting the times, I still can’t completely grasp all that led up to such a decree. Learning much regarding those key political events from grade school on (… thank you, Mr. C… thank you still, Miss Jane…), after Britain neglected their American children for so long, when they finally did step in and attempt to actually focus on those across the Atlantic, Americans must have felt as if government was so out of touch… the rulers had been too distant and did not have Americans’ best interests in mind.
So what does one do? What does one do when our sense is that government is so out of touch?
I don’t believe we’re going out on too much of an editorial limb here to assert that a significant number of Americans — all over the partisan map — has felt government has been out of touch for years… decades, for some. Our self-evident truths have been distorted… “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…”
The truths have not changed, but perceived distortion has been prominent.
Noting first that according to the declaration,“Governments are instituted among Men” in order “to secure these rights” — and also, that government’s power comes only from “the consent of the governed” — it seems we are struggling as a society for multiple reasons — reasons far bigger than the ego and efforts of any of the recent elect.
Distortion of the self-evident truths comes when we are judgmental… We sometimes look at ethnicities, ages, genders, and the religious faithful, etc. as something less than equal. We, for example, at times feel emboldened to judge both the LGBTQ and evangelical community. My sense is that we are not to aver nor render consequence upon either.
Distortion comes when we are demanding… We sometimes declare that in order for “me” to pursue “my” happiness, “you” need to accept what “I” do as good… “you” need to believe what “I” do… for “you” need to realize that “I” speak truth and therefore “you” do not. Friends, I wholeheartedly believe there is a respectful way to embrace “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” without demanding that everyone else thinks like “me.”
And finally, distortion of these truths comes when we no longer thank nor acknowledge who our unalienable rights have been endowed by. Government is not the giver of every good and perfect gift. Government is not omniscient nor omnipotent — especially in a government that only has power because the people governed have consented to such.
While the rhetorical, political climate seems to continuously digress — with each so-called “side” believing they are somehow justified in their denigration and denouncement — I am increasingly concerned that more will advocate for a separation from “the political bands which have connected them.” Granted, there’s a key difference between now and 241 years ago…
The persons who were out of touch in 1776 lived approximately 3,539 miles away. Today, the persons we may perceive to be out of touch might live right next door. Hence, a separation is not helpful, healthy, nor effective. Also not helpful is judgment. Demandingness. Nor a lacking in true thanksgiving.
This 4th of July, may we follow the founders’ final written words… together… with our neighbor… who may or may not think differently than we… “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
A brilliant declaration indeed.
May we mutually pledge our respect and support to one another.
Cheers. And happy 4th.