Some Musings Based On the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence – It’s way past time to read it again.
#1 of several in a series

[A discussion of all the ideas contained in the complete document is way beyond the scope of my remarks here. This is a huge topic. I do believe that the whole document is worthy of discussion in our current political/legal environment, but I’ll leave that to you and other forums. The quoted, bold text, below, is all I want to comment on, at this time.]

“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,”

The above quote includes only the first paragraph and the beginning of the second paragraph of one of the most important documents related to our nation’s founding. I believe that it is pertinent to our nation’s current situation, politically, morally and legally.

My observation and the questions that arise in my mind come from this idea: that the primary writer of the “Declaration”, Thomas Jefferson, and those others who were involved in the production of this revolutionary statement, directed at King George, expressed the belief that the foundation of our law is natural law and the purpose of government is not to grant, define or establish “certain inalienable rights” but to protect them. In other words, our most fundamental rights derive from our humanity, not government itself, not citizenship in our country, not our body of written law.

Set aside the fact that our history is full of evidence that “all men” who “are created equal” have been mostly wealthy, white males. Consider the words of the Declaration. Study the controversial concepts of natural law and “certain inalienable rights” (see links below) and see if you, as do I, see the beginnings of a way to make sense of our divisive contemporary situation and a possible path to a solution to the problem of being trapped in the “divided they fall” predicament.

More on this in the next blog posting.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/n/natlaw.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09076a.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-theories/
http://jim.com/rights.html
http://jim.com/spooner.htm
http://www.zetetics.com/mac/natlaw.htm
http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophy/Locke.htm#TOC

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