A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 4th of July, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Reflecting on our nation’s birthday, I noticed this holiday has become more militaristic in tone than in years past. We have gotten away from our country’s founding values.
We honor our military on three other days – Armed Forces Day (May 16), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), and Veterans Day, (November 11).
We should devote Independence Day to the values found in the Declaration. If we reflected more on these values, we might not have all the divisions we are experiencing in our country today.
Let’s look at some of these values.
First it says, “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.”
This statement boldly declares that everyone is created equal in the sight of God and that we should apply the laws of our land equally to everyone.
St. Paul says, “For God shows no partiality.” (Rom. 2:1)
St. James is even stronger: “But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (Jam. 2:9)
The Founders identified three unalienable rights, (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness), as God-given and declared this truth to be self-evident. Any person with common sense should come to this same conclusion. They were so passionate about these three rights that they stated unequivocally that this was the purpose of government. “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
Moreover, their right of revolution hinged upon the denial of these “God-given rights.”
“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 … But when a long train of abuses and usurpations … 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.”
That’s a powerful statement. What it is saying is that if the Government is not fulfilling its obligation to provide every citizen with equal rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, the Government needs to change.
Let us be honest. Everyone in the U.S. does not have the equal right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
How do we change this?
Again the document says, “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”
We now have people in our streets calling attention to the fact that People of Color are not treated the same way as White People. What do we do about this injustice – we call attention to these abuses and we vote for people who will establish equal justice for all.
In Louisiana, a woman is paid 68 cents for the same job that a man is making $1.00. So what do we do? We call attention to this injustice and we “vote the bums out.”
Some CEOs make multi-millions of dollars a year and fail to pay their workers a living wage. Some even get special tax breaks. Every worker should get a living wage. That is the purpose of an economy.
The Writers ask for God’s help in this re-creation.
“For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Are we willing to make this moral commitment?