Happy Independence Day Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, July 04, 2007
The 4th of July has always made me think of a particular document, or, actually, a portion of a particular document. To me it is one of the most powerful documents ever written by man. It is, as I consider it, the foundational statement - the heart and soul - of our nation's philosophy. It comes from the Declaration of Independence:
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.
"And so this morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach: "The American Dream."
It wouldn't take us long to discover the substance of that dream. It is found in those majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, words lifted to cosmic proportions: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This is a dream. It's a great dream.
The first saying we notice in this dream is an amazing universalism. It doesn't say "some men," it says "all men." It doesn't say "all white men," it says "all men," which includes black men. It does not say "all Gentiles," it says "all men," which includes Jews. It doesn't say "all Protestants," it says "all men," which includes Catholics. It doesn't even say "all theists and believers," it says "all men," which includes humanists and agnostics."
The universality of human rights, their inalienable nature and the expression as a foundational part of a nation and its government, all unique and revolutionary ideas. The power of those concepts and ideas remains a part of an ongoing revolution and one in which we must constantly defend against those who would turn the world's days back to darker times.
It takes an aware and involved citizenry to maintain their freedom and liberties. And I challenge each of you to renew your vow to work toward that goal in the coming years. It is as important now as it was to those courageous men who signed the Declaration in the face of the most powerful monarch in the world, and mutually pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
While you celebrate our nation's independence today, take a second and think about what has been started here and why, and renew yourself to the struggle to ensure the philosophy embodied in the Declaration remains our guiding light. It was a dream for those who wrote it and signed it. And it remains a dream for millions in this world who see it as a shining beacon of hope.
And as you celebrate, take a moment to think of those in harm's way today as well.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.