Our founding fathers were brilliant men, no doubt about that. The Declaration of Independence is one of the most remarkable documents ever written. But I fear that my generation bears little resemblance to our founding fathers. The founding fathers of any nation are passionate about their dreams for their country. Unfortunately, as generations pass, nations drift farther and farther away from their original ideals. We, the United States, are not any different.
I am quite sure our founding fathers would not recognize the United States of today. And maybe it’s partly their fault. We they said, “We hold these truths to be self evident”, they never realized that future generations would twist these words to pacify a people.
“That all men are created equal”. After nearly 250 years, we aren’t even close. Oh, we abolished slavery, gave women the vote, and integrated our schools. We kept the Indians on the reservation.
You see, our founding fathers were shortsighted in some ways. They weren’t thinking about Indians, Negros or women. They were thinking about themselves. Democracy was a new idea at the time. A great experiment so to speak. How could they include any other classes of people when freedom was something so new? They needed to experience freedom themselves.
Now let’s talk about “Certain Unalienable Rights”. What the heck does that mean? It just rolls off your tongue and it just feels powerful. Let’s start with the definition of “unalienable”. Had to look it up. Unalienable: The state of a thing or right which cannot be sold. In other words, these rights are inherent. These are rights given by God.
Now let’s talk about that. The first unalienable right mentioned is the right to life. Somebody has got to help me here, I can’t find that chapter and verse. I can find the part about “An eye for and eye” and “thou shalt not kill”. It takes a real spin doctor to put those two together for me. I can also find the part that tells us that we are not promised tomorrow. So just what is this “right to life”. God gave us life and he can take it. It is God given not a man’s inherent right. We do have man made laws that punish those that don’t respect life. That’s true, but in the end, God has given us this human life. It’s up to us to use that life honoring God. God has promised us eternal life if we believe. So to me the only unalienable right granted by God was that of our salvation. We can’t sale or give away that right. If we believe, then we are promised eternal life in heaven.
So how can I rationalize abortion rights, the death penalty and cruel and unusual punishment? I can’t. And thankfully, it’s not my problem. I know that sound crass, but in reality, I have to just give it to God. I know what I believe about abortion and the death penalty and just like trying to reconcile “an eye for and eye and thou shalt not kill”, I can’t explain them to anyone without putting my spin on it.
Now let’s talk about liberty. The liberties of the founding fathers were reserved mainly for male landowners. Liberty was a big thing for them. In the due course of the last 250 years, we have eroded our liberties to the point that the founding fathers would call for another revolution. The problem is that our liberties have been taken away so gradually that we don’t even see it. It’s like sticking a chicken in a pot of water and start cooking. The chicken is cooked before he realizes that anything is wrong. And so goes with our liberties. We are pretty much cooked, we just don’t know it yet.
The last unalienable right specifically mentioned is “the pursuit of happiness”. I think this right is the most misunderstood and has caused us the most trouble as a nation. First of all, how do you pursue happiness. More money, bigger job, bigger house, more toys.. We all know in our hearts that material goods don’t bring real happiness, yet this is what we always think this part of the Declaration of Independence means. The pursuit of happiness has brought us; alcoholism, suicides, drug addiction, and numerous other addictions. It has made a whole industry of counselors, therapists and a new branch of medicine. Boy do we have the drugs to counteract any feeling that we might have. All in the name of “the pursuit of happiness”. In reality, the faster you pursue happiness the more elusive it is.
So what did the founding fathers have in mind when they wrote down the pursuit of happiness? Well remember, it was a Christian nation at that time. Maybe they meant the ability to live a Godly life here on earth without fear of persecution. Because isn’t that where real happiness lies. I know it is for me. When I am close to God, I am happy. I have no fears, because I give them to him. To me, that’s the pursuit of happiness.
Don’t know why this came to mind, but it did. I guess God wanted me to say it or at least write it down. The Declaration of Independence means something different to me now than what I was taught growing up.
Please listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.