Fifty-six folks signed a document 246 years ago this week, declaring that we are created equal, endowed by our Creator — not by a king or a congress or a dictator or a parliament, but a Creator — with certain rights, inalienable rights, that is to say, rights that cannot be taken away.
Those rights include — but are not limited to — a right to life, a right to liberty, and a right to pursue happiness. And when governments, which are supposedly here to make sure those rights are secured, do not do that job, or threaten those rights, or even infringe on those rights, well, then, they declared that folks have a right to leave that government behind and establish a better one.
Of course, people in power being used to wielding power, signing such a declaration could be considered tantamount to suicide, because the governments of the day did what governments always do to people who challenge their authority: They sent as many men as were available to kill as many people who believed in the declaration as they could.
We live in a time when the government is again treating these certain, inalienable rights as if they are privileges that they may grant or withhold. Heck, they even refer to them as “constitutional rights,” as if the rights were granted by the Constitution, rather than our Creator.
The Declaration of Independence has a whole list of offenses that King George III committed against his American colonial subjects. Some of them are awfully familiar:
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”
“… imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”
“… depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury”
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Now, I am not enamored of the thought that the government could send people out to kill us all, but I’m also not enamored of the idea of violating basic human rights, such as the basic human rights that the Constitution explicitly prohibits the government from violating. You see the dilemma.
The “good” news is they probably don’t want to be seen as killers, either, which is why they seem to be working so hard to incite a civil war, to make people so angry that we go out and do the job of killing each other without bloodying their own hands. I hope and pray it doesn’t come to that, but so many are so easily fooled by these tricksters.
The best way to thwart these tyrants is not to rise to the bait. When they rant and rave and buy TV commercials and newscasters to tell us how we need to hate each other, instead let’s embrace each other and say, “Hey, we disagree on a few things, but if we talk it over, maybe we can find some common ground and work out some solutions together. Obviously the people we supposedly elected to fix things would rather fight, but this is a big beautiful country and there’s plenty of room for all of us to live together in peace.”
Clearly if we refused to hate each other and found ways to work out our differences, it would drive our so-called leaders crazy. But for them, it’s a short trip anyway.