The Declaration of Independence: A Living Document

4 Jul

A Picture Everyone Should Recognize

First, let us look at this beautiful document, part of the actual text:

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.–Such has been the patient sufferance 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.

How I understand this is that it is obvious that all men are created equal that [we] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Every time I read this document I cry at its power and wisdom.

Because it is a living document, we have the ability to recognize gross omissions and correct them, thereby further extending civil rights to Women, Blacks, Latinos, Gays, without condition.  Our unalienable rights are not dependent on belief in a god, or who we love (thank goodness we also learned from the miscegenation laws of not long ago), nor are these unalienable rights reserved only for white wealthy gentry–I realize that many of the current Republican candidates will need to look up the word gentry.

While I am not a nationalist, I do wish everyone a Happy 4th of July and encourage everyone to actually read the Declaration of Independence and keep in mind that it is a living document.


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