How well are we living up to the Declaration of Independence?
Although there are many things Thomas Jefferson did in life for which he can be proud, being the author of the Declaration of Independence — the founding document of this country — was so important to him as a life achievement that he had its words included on his gravestone. The revolutionary idea of the Declaration of Independence was that government was not the giver of rights and freedom. No, those were God-given. It was government's job to protect them for everyone.
The Founding Fathers agreed with this view. We know this because they signed the Declaration, pledging at the same time not only their support, but their reputations, fortunes, and lives.
The government the Founding Fathers sought to establish had one job. It was formed to protect the rights that God had granted Americans. Those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As things currently stand, it is hard to argue that the federal government is living up to that purpose or mission.
How are the people in charge securing our right to life when homicides are reaching new highs and abortion is protected? How are they securing liberties when they pass mandates that restrict freedom and increase taxes? How are they allowing the pursuit of happiness when they continually place new burdens on us?
If we are not living up to the very beginning of the founding document of this country, are we really living in the country that the Founders imagined?
Sean Hannity said, "The first role of government should be law and order, to keep Americans safe and secure so they can pursue happiness." Doing this would go a lot farther than allowing for the just pursuit of happiness. It goes to the heart of what government was established to do. A government that creates laws for the common good and enforces them would be protecting life and liberty as well.
First, though, the laws for the common good need to be established. Too often of late, laws and policies serve specialized interests and groups. Next, those laws need to be enforced uniformly by a well-trained and properly equipped police force whose members understand the laws they are enforcing.
When this is done, the country's citizens will find that they are less likely to be killed, that they will have liberty, and that they will be able to pursue their happiness.
Jefferson also wrote that governments are man-made institutions that have no power other than that the governed give them, meaning that if enough people don't like the way government is operating, it can be changed. "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 affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," the Declaration of Independence reads.
This is a call not for revolution, but for action. If a majority of the country does not like what has been happening on our streets and in our halls of government, then citizens need to take action to change things. Run for office. Vote for politicians who will make the changes you want. Support the men and women who are trying to ensure that we live lives full of freedom and in pursuit of happiness.
We have that power. It was given to us by the Creator. Government can't take it away. Government can only convince us to give it away.
Michael Letts is the CEO and founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.
Image via Picryl.