“There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”
~Henry David Thoreau~
For a country to remain true to the principles it was founded upon it must teach those principles to each generation so that they can carry them forward and put them to use in their decision making process and in forming their core belief system. If a country fails to do that, it is doomed, and the principles it was founded upon will vanish into the dustbin of history. America is a prime example of that in action; as an overwhelming majority of the people living here cannot explain with any degree of proficiency what this country once stood for.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was just a young kid making my way through high school. I do recall, however, that during the last two years of that voyage I was required to take a U.S. History and a Civics class; designed to teach me the fundamentals of our history and our system of government. Although neither of those subjects interested me back then I was required to pass them if I wanted to graduate; so I squeaked by with C’s in both of them.
Although that was years ago, I do recall one thing; we never discussed the Declaration of Independence. Sure, we learned that it was written and that it, along with the Revolution, led America to become an independent country, we never discussed its content. At the time that didn’t bother me in the slightest, but now that I look back on it I have to wonder why they would not teach us the principles that this country was founded upon.
I know that answer now; it is because they do not want children growing up knowing those principles; for if they did grow up learning them their power would diminish, or at least be questioned more frequently than it is today. It’s the same reason they don’t teach children to think anymore, to question things; they want to dictate what you think so that you repeat it by rote like good little zombies. Oh, and in case you’re not familiar with the meaning of the word ‘rote’, it means, “the mechanical repetition of something so that it is remembered, often without real understanding of its meaning or significance.”
Take the word democracy for example; we all, (well most people), believe that we have a democracy in this country. Yet had you read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution you would not find the word democracy in either of those documents. People believe we have a democracy because that is what they are taught in school, and it is what is repeated over and over again on the television.
It seems so logical to me that I have trouble understanding why others find this so difficult to comprehend; if the Declaration of Independence established America as an independent country then don’t you think that whatever principles it contains ought to form the basis for our beliefs? Yet how many people can explain those beliefs with any proficiency? Not only that, how many people apply those principles in their daily lives? If the answer to both those question is, not very many, then isn’t it safe to say that America has strayed off the path it was founded upon?
It wasn’t until years after I had graduated from high school that I read the Declaration of Independence for the first time. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand what it says. Our Founders, even the ones I dislike, were well educated men and had a way with words that is seldom seen in today’s political arena. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to be the primary author of the Declaration of Independence due to his, ‘peculiar felicity of expression’; meaning he had a way with words. When Jefferson asked John Adams why he should be the one to write such an important document, Adams replied, “Reason first—You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second—I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third—You can write ten times better than I can.”
People are entitled to their own opinions, and therefore some may disagree with me, but it is my opinion that the opening segment of the Declaration of Independence is the finest example of writing the world has ever seen. The scope of what those 269 words say, and their eloquence, is beyond what I could ever dream of achieving, and far exceeds the speeches and documents produced by statesmen today. Yet how many people have read, re-read, and re-read again what those 269 words say; until they have a clear understanding of what they mean?
Well, if you haven’t, then you’ve come to the right place; because it is my intent to try and explain what those words mean; to the best of my ability. If I falter along the way, I would hope that anyone more enlightened than I might correct me in my errors; for the truth is more important to me than my opinion. That being said, let’s begin our discussion of the most important document in American History.
The first thing people must understand is that when they wrote and voted upon whether to adopt the Declaration of Independence they weren’t do so to become an independent country; they were doing so to become independent States. That face is affirmed in the closing statement of the Declaration of Independence, where it says, “That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…” That fact remained true under the first system of government they established under the Articles of Confederation, and it did not begin to change until the Constitution was written, adopted, and put into operation. So keep in mind that those who signed it believed that each State was to be sovereign and independent; each a country unto itself.
Getting into the meat and potatoes of what the Declaration of Independence says, we find the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” It’s truly a sad commentary on our educational system that something so self-explanatory would even require explaining. Regardless, what that means is that the things this document is about to say are true, and that those at the time did not think these ‘truths’ required explaining to anyone, they were commonly accepted as the truth by all. It’s a shame that these truths are no longer self-evident, they are no longer considered true either.
The first truth that is spoken of is that ‘all men are created equal.’ I wonder, could the Declaration of Independence even be written today with all the antagonism towards identifying people by gender. With all the non gender specific, trans-gender, non-binary, and other terms people identify with today would the use of the word ‘men’ doom the Declaration of Independence in today’s mixed up world? Just a thought on my part.
I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the word equality. I think some people believe it means that all people are entitled to equal status in life; when all it says is that when we enter into this world we are all equal in opportunity. Using the logic of those Social Justice Warriors who promote equality using that definition, why don’t I make as much money as Russell Wilson, (Seattle Seahawks quarterback), who makes $79 million per year, or as much as actor Robert Downey Jr, who made $40 million per film playing Iron Man?
I think what this phrase means is that we are created equal, and that equality extends to equality of opportunity; but it is up to each individual to utilize that equality to achieve success or wealth based upon their own wit, drive, and ambition. Equality as it pertains to standard of living is not an entitlement; it has to be earned. Today people believe that it is acceptable to take from some, (tax them), and then redistribute that money to those who have not achieved the same level of success in life. I don’t think the author of the Declaration of Independence would have agreed with that belief; in fact he spoke out against it in an 1816 letter to Joseph Milligan, “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
And I just know that there are some out there who are saying, “But what about slavery Neal, those held in bondage did not share in that equality.” You’re right, they didn’t. But had you studied the Declaration of Independence with the same degree of dedication that I have you would have discovered that the version on display at the National Archives is not the first draft; that is the edited version. In Jefferson’s first draft he spoke out openly AGAINST slavery, stating, “he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.”
Those were Jefferson’s thoughts on it; even though he was a Southerner who owned slaves. Yet that passage was edited out by the other members of the Committee of Five; all of whom were Northerners:
-John Adams, Massachusetts
-Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania
-Roger Sherman, Connecticut
-Robert Livingston, New York
Had those Northern men left Jefferson’s original wording in the document may not have met with the approval that it did; but I find it interesting that a Slave Owner wrote those words, yet they were removed by those from Northern States.
The next truth the Declaration of Independence mentions is that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. There are two specific points that passage brings out, and one implied by the passage I first discussed. The first is that our rights do not come from government, or pieces of parchment written by men; they come from our Creator. It does not really matter if your religious beliefs teach you that this Creator is God, Allah, Buddha, or Odin; the fact is that those who signed this document believed there was a higher power than man; and that higher power is where our rights come from.
The second point is that these rights are unalienable. I don’t think that people today understand the meaning of the word unalienable; for if they did they would not have sat back and watched as their unalienable rights were taken away from them. I hear a lot of talk from people saying that unalienable and inalienable mean the same thing. Well, they don’t.
Inalienable rights are those that cannot be surrendered or transferred WITHOUT the permission of those possessing them. For instance, if my right to vote is inalienable I might agree to transfer or surrender it for a specific amount of money, or a certain other privilege.
You cannot do that with unalienable rights; they are incapable of being surrendered, transferred or sold under any circumstances. Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, states this about unalienable rights, “You can not surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are a gift from the creator to the individual and can not under any circumstances be surrendered or taken. All individual’s have unalienable rights.”
The next truth is that among those rights, (implying there are more than the ones specifically mentioned), are ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ I would hope that Life is self-explanatory; yet apparently it isn’t when you consider that last year 345,672 lives were snuffed out in abortion clinics across the country. That’s almost 3 times as many as the total number of deaths due to the Covid plandemic; yet people argue that it’s a woman’s right to choose between giving birth or aborting the life growing inside her. What about the rights of that fetus; do they not count?
The next of these rights is the right to liberty. I think liberty is even more misunderstood than the right to equality. Liberty, without going into too lengthy a definition, is the ability to do whatever you want so long as you do not interfere with the rights of anyone else. Using that as a definition, do I have liberty, do you?
Can you open a business, build a home, hunt, fish, carry a firearm on your person, or operate a motor vehicle without obtaining permission from government first through either a permit or a license? If you do not obtain that permit you can, and probably will be fined, jailed, or even killed if you refuse to comply with the government’s requirement to obtain their permission to do these things…and many more I might add. Is that how you define liberty?
I know it is stepping outside the parameters of our discussion, but the 5th Amendment to the Constitution states, “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” This sort of ties into the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’; which means that until the state, or those acting as prosecutors on its behalf, have provided insurmountable evidence that a person is guilty of committing a crime, (which requires a victim), then that person cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property. Getting back to abortions for a minute, where is the due process for those fetuses? Where is the proof of guilt; that they were guilty of committing a crime before their lives were taken from them?
What about all the lives, black, white, and brown, that law enforcement has taken without due process? Is running away from the police justification for their having their lives taken from them; is resisting arrest? I understand the anger in the black community; particularly those who comprise the Black Lives Matter movement; I truly do. But if those people truly understood equality, then ALL LIVES MATTER EQUALLY!!! And that’s all I intend to say about that.
The final right that Jefferson mentions is the right to pursue happiness; the key word being pursue. If I’m on a quarter mile track I can pursue an Olympic sprinter to my heart’s content; it doesn’t mean I’ll ever catch them though. This ties back into my discussion of equality a few moments ago; we are all equal in opportunity, but we have to achieve happiness, or success, based upon our own abilities and efforts.
So what about this pursuit of happiness part? What if someone finds happiness in a bar, a concert venue, or at a sporting event? With all of these mandatory shut downs due to the Covid planemic how are people supposed to find their brand of happiness when the government has shut all these places down? You see, that’s what people don’t understand about liberty; the fact that it comes attached with the responsibility of accepting the consequences of your actions. That means that, even though there may be a plandemic going on, people are free to travel about as they please, and attend any event they want to; so long as they accept the fact that in so doing they take the risk of catching this so-called Covid virus.
The same goes for mandatory face masks; a person should be free to make that choice of their own free will; not have that decision made for them by government, or be shamed into wearing a face mask by those who do not understand what real liberty is. If you wish to wear a face mask, by all means, go right ahead; just don’t force me to wear one; for that violates MY liberty. Your fear, be it of a virus, a person saying things you find offensive, or a person carrying a gun for their own protection, does not trump their ability to do those things; and if you understood liberty you would understand that!
The next truth is a big one; ‘That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…’ That right there explains the purpose of government, and where government gets its authority. But if you don’t know, (weren’t taught), what that purpose is; if you don’t know, (weren’t taught what your rights are or what liberty is), how are you to know if government is doing a good job?
If you don’t know those things then you probably think it is okay to violate or infringe upon the rights of others if it gives you a feeling of security. That is why people tolerate these stay at home orders, these common sense gun control laws, and all the laws that have been enacted to fight terrorism; all of which violate almost all of our rights and our liberty.
People may have been taught certain things in school regarding the purpose of government, but that does not necessarily make what they were taught the truth. Textbooks can lie, and they often do when it comes to history and the powers delegated to our government by the Constitution. If you choose to reject the truth when it is presented to you, then that’s your problem and you have exposed yourself to be one who cares nothing for the truth; making you immoral and lacking in integrity.
Government today, both at the State and federal level, exceeds its authority and violates our rights and liberty with impunity; all because people don’t seek out the truth regarding why governments exist – according to the men who founded this country. We have strayed from the principles those men believed in, principles they were willing to lay down their lives in defense of, and they are so far in our rear view mirrors they may as well be gone completely.
If you believe that you have the right to deny me my rights, my liberty, because I’m better off in life than you are, or because what I do or say frightens or offends you, then you do not understand what principles this country was founded upon; and you are as much a part of the problem as the people you elect who pass the laws that deny me my Creator given rights. If you support those who enforce the laws these tyrants pass, then you are as guilty as they are when those enforcers take a life or deny someone their rights or liberty.
In 1785 James Madison, that little weasel who was primarily responsible for the Constitution, once said that it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. He then went on to say, “We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entagled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
That is why we had a Declaration of Independence, and a Revolution to achieve that independence. They did not have a peaceful protest, they did not petition their government, or vote the rascals out of office; they fought for their rights and their liberty; and some of them died doing so. Thomas Jefferson did say that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
People today accept that government has more power than the people do because that is what they have been taught; when the Declaration of Independence tells us otherwise. Finally, that document tells us, ‘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.’
You see, not only does government derives its just power from the consent of the governed, it derives its unjust power by our willingness to obey the laws it passes regardless of whether or not those laws restrict the rights and liberty of the people.
The hardest thing for people to understand is that if they wish for their rights and liberty to be respected, they must respect the rights and liberty of those they disagree with. As long as we continue fighting amongst ourselves; seeking to impose our views upon others, then the real enemy, (governments), gets away with murder; literally and figuratively.
In closing I would like to leave you with a few quotes from author Ayn Rand. I know she had nothing to do with the establishment of our system of government, but one would do well to ponder them:
– The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
– The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that Man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness.
– Any alleged “right” of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right.
I think Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry would all have agreed with those statements, and they are the ones who spoke loudest about the liberty of the people when those rights were being violated by the King of England. Therefore, if these men, as many others throughout time, all felt that our rights come from some other source other than government, and that governments are instituted to secure those rights, then how can anyone claim that what we have today is a just government?
And if we do not have a just government, whose fault is that? After all, people elect these criminals and tyrants to office, and they keep doing so over and over and over again without ever standing up and saying, NO MORE, I will not vote for tyrants who violate my rights and the rights of those I may not agree with.
Until that changes, nothing else will; it will only get worse.