This new year 2018 begins with our society torn in many directions for reasons that may only become clear with the passage of time. This is not a new situation for our country to be in. America was born out of rebellion against the control of a distant government not acting in the best interests of its people. (It should be noted for reference to today that King George and Parliment were taking actions on taxes in an effort to pay off the debts incurred by international war. Think about our National Debt today and how we will all feel when Washington has to start collecting for our, mostly, war debt).
America in the late 1700’s was a land of immigrants, mostly fleeing from oppression and societal change. They came to Colonies where they found free land to farm and plenty of places to pratice their trades. My ancestors came from German territory where the change from Serfdom to Royal land ownership caused sharp breaks in family tradition and the ability to maintain the family farm. This mixing pot of people grew accustoned to surviving and thriving by their own work and ingenuity. So when King George came calling for taxes that seemed to have no relationship to the Colonies, rebellion was a natural consequence.
The following is from the National Archives and is an excerpt of the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Indepenence. The entire document is highly recommended reading for us; however, this excerpt is the basis of our freedoms today. As we stumble through our own times of turmoil and unrest, we are wise to look for a foundation of thought that reflects our American Values.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –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; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object 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.
There are innumerable interpretaions of this text the reader can look up so I will leave it as said. For my part, I firmly believe that “all men are created equal”, that I have certain unalienable rights, “the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, that to secure these rights my Government is instituted and derives is just power from the consent of the governed, and that my Government shall not be destructive to these ends. I posit that today my Government is acting in a manner that is destructive to these ends.
Reading the full Declaration of Independence will yield the list of grievances the Colonists had against King George. Today we have a long list of grievances against the National Government in Washington and an equal list of abuses by the various State Governments wherein as a minimum complaint, these governments are acting for the interests of the Wealthy, Big Business, and the Military Industrial Complex. The actions of these various governments are contrary to ensuring the Safety and Happiness of mankind. Indeed in many cases, they are acting against our inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
2018 is a good year to begin the process of asking our government officials and elected representatives to redress our grievances – to demand change. We elect them to ensure our Safety and ability to Pursue Happiness. We should give our consent to govern only to those candidates that share a full understanding of their role in representing our interests, not the interests of the Wealthy Donor Class, not the interests of Big Business, nor the interests of the Military Industrial Complex.
Reflect upon the Declaration of Independence and think about the Government that our forefathers sought to bestow on the following generations, for us. Compare these wishes to where we find ourselves today. I think the reader will agree that it is time for the common man to demand Government that acts in his best interests, ensures the “right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. This can be done within the constraints of our Constitution if we elect people who represent our best interests. This being said it is our mutual responsibility to study these candidates for office, to listen to them, ask them questions and to vote. Those whom we elect need to know what our expectations of them are and we need to know from them what they expect to do in their new job.
As President Kennedy so aptly said, “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961. This is the founding spirit of America let us use the American Spirit to guide us.
PS: The word “his” is used in the authors text intending to be inclusive of all people, sexes, races, and orientation. In a neutral manner, not to indicate male exclusivity.