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We Hold These Truths

“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.”

July 2, 1776 the thirteen British colonies in America voted unanimously (the New York delegation abstaining—awaiting instructions from their legislature) to “dissolve the connection” from the Kingdom of Great Britain—adopting a
Declaration of Independence.
That Declaration became official when the wording was affirmed and the document signed by the Representatives on July 4. (Although, nearly a fifth of all individual delegates to the Continental Congress voted, “No”).

Over our 242 years, the Fourth of July has transitioned toward a celebration of liberty. After winning independence and earning its place among the world’s nations, Independence Day has become a celebration of human liberty, championed and defended by generations of Americans in battle and statecraft. Yes, we argue over how best to define the term, but Americans have steadily championed liberty.

Humans have the right to Life. Every life is immeasurably
priceless. Governments and individuals throughout history have viewed humans as resources to be exploited. America was conceived on the idea that human life is a sacred Right. Each and every life is more precious than any ruler or ruling class, than any corporation or technology.

Liberty rests upon the idea that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Liberty is not granted by any monarch nor government. It was given by our Creator. Humans were designed to live free. We thrive within the challenges of freedom and shrivel when Liberty is constrained.

The pursuit of Happiness was an adaptation from the Virgina’s
Declaration of Rights, “… Life, Liberty and Property.” The Continental Congress assigned the composition of its declaration to a Committee of Five; Thomas Jefferson of Virgina, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New York. These northerners edited out “property” due to its then connotation with slavery as well as its emphasis upon materialism. Happiness is a cultural construct. Happiness today means personal pleasure with pleasant, positive emotions because one’s needs and wants are satisfied. In 1776 Happiness focused upon prosperity, thriving and wellbeing.

The Declaration of Independence concludes, “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.” Can human liberty be maintained by a culture that no longer relies upon divine Providence, and no longer is willing to pledge anything to each other beyond demands for personal satisfaction? ~

Dan Nygaard