Two hundred and thirty seven years ago, America drew a line in the sand. In the confines of Independence Hall, a few men set the course for a new country, and for the rest of the world, to follow. A document was written, so important, that it forever changed the course of humanity.
What made it so important? It was just a bunch of disgruntled Americans upset at their government, right? A formal complaint perhaps? No, it was so much more. The Declaration, in its entirety is on page 3, so go read it now. Cut it out and save it. The words are more than relevant today as the day it was written.
It begins with “self-evident” truths, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This is the very foundation of America, and the freedoms that subsequently spread throughout the world. Think about that for a moment, that all men are created equal. Since the early stages of government of the people, it was wealth or your bloodline that determined who would succeed and govern. With the stroke of a pen, nobility was erased and the common man was empowered.
They are also given these rights by their creator. This completely removed the authority of men over other men and gave the power to govern only to those which the people consented. A king had no right to rule over another man, as he was now deemed no different than any others. People, as a collective, were given power over governance and themselves. Tyranny was no longer tolerated.
The document continues with grievances against the King. Interestingly enough, see if you see any connections to those grievances then and the current condition of America:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. [Insert, Czars and departments such as the IRS, EPA, etc. which hold power over people but are not elected by the people.]
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Are not politicians pushing to ban military-esque weapons from the hands of the people, and are not others already banned for civilian use?]
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. [Think about the Federal Government’s ability to overrule state laws, specifically with judicial activism in the Supreme Court.]
After these grievances were expressed, Jefferson and the others knew the danger of this document. It wasn’t a commentary in a newspaper protected by free speech. No, it was treason, and it was all or nothing. In closing, they “pledge[d] to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They put everything on the table, risking it all, to stand up for unalienable rights and the freedom of man.
Would you do the same today? Would you risk popularity and your personal fortune to fight against tyranny? Or would you stand by and just say “that’s the way things are”?
We have politicians that pass soft tyranny because they claim that is better than hard tyranny. They expand government because the status quo requires it. Could the Founders have done the same? Of course. They could have amassed personal fortunes and popularity by kowtowing to English rule and set themselves into some governing role. They could have worked with the King and appeasement, devising a compromise between the States and England. Instead, they stood steadfast in a set of beliefs that everyone reading this can be beyond thankful for. Unlike today’s politicians, they weren’t cowards and knew that some things were worth fighting for. That, is why we celebrate the 4th of July.