It has become customary for me to read the Declaration of Independence every July 4th. I think it’s important to keep fresh the principles on which this country was founded, especially when it seems that these principles are being distorted, neglected, and flat out broken. I recall several years ago, visiting the National Archives in Washington DC on a July 4th weekend, and thinking how our government was founded on a piece of paper, as opposed to the crown jewels that represent British government. It did make me feel proud to be an American.
I’d like to start by mentioning one of the more recognizable passages from the text: “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.” I’ve thought about this passage a lot this past year, as I’ve seen the rights of American’s being stripped away because of their sexual orientation. The pursuit of happiness means that individuals should have the right to be with a person who makes them happy and to share the same rights as all other citizens.
The document continues to list the offenses of the king against the colonies. As I read through the list, there were several that stood out as applicable today.
- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. — I see this occurring on a daily basis in Congress. Votes are cast along party lines without regard to whether a law benefits the citizens. Even worse is when laws are passed that benefit corporate interests at the expense of individuals and communities.
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. — This occurred just the other day here in NC, when the state legislature dragged out a session, causing a House representative to accidentally hit the wrong button on a vote to overturn a fracking ban. She immediately announced her mistake, but the people seeking to overturn the veto refused to allow her to change her vote and viewed it as a victory.
- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. — I have just one word to say about this: Arizona.
- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. — All I could think about as I read this one was Clarence Thomas. Let’s face it, he is not the picture of unbiased interpretation of the Constitution. And yes, Supreme Court justices tend to be either conservative or liberal, and I believe maintaining a balance is good, I have yet to see Mr Thomas vote in any way that would make me think that he is not a puppet.
- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. — As I think about the environmental destruction of our resources and coastal regions for the sole purpose of monetary gain and to quench our insatiable thirst for cheap energy, and how people are now suffering as a result of assaults on the environment, I feel quite certain that our founding fathers would be appalled at what we have allowed to happen.
I encourage everyone to let go of the petty team mentality that has caused such a rift amongst Americans, resulting in intolerance and animosity that is based solely upon whether a person is considered progressive or conservative. Get involved, read, make educated decisions, and do not allow yourself to be swayed by propaganda. You can take the first step by carefully reading the Declaration of Independence right now.
Click here to read the text from the Archives’ website.
“I read the news today, oh boy.”
I’ve been finding it difficult to express my disappointment this morning with the latest chapter in bigotry and intolerance: Amendment One. As I watched the church buses yesterday shuttling people to the polls to joyfully strip an entire group of citizens of their civil rights, I felt waves of disgust. I suppose I had hoped that as a society we had made more progress.
Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle eloquently sums up exactly how I feel in today’s article: “Amendment One becomes our state’s shame” (click here to read the article).
I am going to try to remain optimistic and hope that this sad event becomes the catalyst that drives the movement for equality forward.