Independence Day is celebrated on the fourth of July each year in America. While that is certainly not a scoop, it is instructive to observe what some of the younger citizens of the nation today think of the holiday.
A recent segment of “Watters’ World,” on FOX news revealed the knowledge repository of some millennials concerning Independence Day. Watters noted his two favorite answers toward the end of his program.
The first was an answer to the question,
Who did we declare independence from? [Answer] Virginia.
The second answer was to the question,
What year did we declare our independence? [Answer] 1984!
It is evident that basic American history has eluded these young people. They are ignorant of both the history of the Declaration of Independence as well as what the document entails.
An Inheritance of “Unalienable Rights”
The most famous words from the Declaration of Independence begin with this:
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…
There are three separate proclamations here. The first is that the truths which will follow are considered to ‘be self-evident.’ This means America’s founders believed that all reasonable and educated people who examined the subject with care would come to the same conclusion.
The second statement begins the enumeration of these “self-evident” truths the first of which is that “all men are created equal…” This would be considered by many today to be a sexist statement because women are not explicitly mentioned. However, modern-day Americans have no conception of just how radical those five words were in the world of the 18th century.
The third attestation is that all were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This means simply that everyone on earth has been given rights by their Creator which exist because each person exists. The key concept is that these rights belong to each person because they were God-given. Therefore, these rights cannot be rightly removed by anyone other than God.
An Inheritance of Life With Liberty
The Declaration continues:
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…
First in the list of unalienable rights is the right to Life. The order of this rights list is intentional and logical. The right to life has to be first because if one is not alive, any other rights are irrelevant.
Liberty is necessarily the next in line. Without liberty, life itself will not reach its purpose or potential. Moreover, liberty is essential to the next proclaimed right, the right to pursue happiness.
An Inheritance to Pursue Happiness
This merits its own section because the “pursuit of Happiness” is far too often confused with the mythical ‘right to be happy.’ This confusion has resulted in a multitude of conflicts and misery most notably displayed in the modern disaster of socialism that is Venezuela today.
The Declaration elucidates the right to pursue happiness, not the right to a guaranteed happiness in life. Liberty makes a free pursuit or a search for happiness possible. Liberty cannot make happiness.
Unfortunately, those who believe that happiness should be expected as a right also believe the government must ensure it. The only actual result of that philosophy, aka Marxist/socialism, is that unhappiness is certain. One reason is the next portion of the Declaration is too often ignored.
An Inheritance of the Purpose and Power of Government
The next sentence of the Declaration pronounces:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
This statement was the driving philosophy behind the Constitution itself. It led to the fact that the each of the Bill of Rights is a restriction of government power over the individual.
According to the Declaration, government’s true purpose is to secure the inherent rights of the individual. The document’s avowal is that the power to secure these rights is drawn with the ‘consent of the governed.’
A ‘just’ government is not one that mandates everything is life must be somehow fair to everyone. Any authority the government uses must be used to secure individual God-given rights, period. That is the limitation of any government, according to the Declaration.
The Left Does Not Recognize Inherent Individual Human Rights
However, the Left doesn’t recognize this limitation. In fact, adherents to the leftist position do not believe anyone is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” despite the Declaration’s words.
Moreover, the philosophy of Marxism is the clarion call of the Left, and there is no place for permanent individual rights there. The belief is that all rights are granted by the state, i.e. the governmental authority of a nation.
Therefore, any so-called human ‘right’ can be given by the state or taken away by the state at any time and for any reason deemed sufficient by the state. This principle is alive and well in America today.
Threats Against the Inheritance of Independence
The threat against American liberty is very real. This is most often seen in the multiple attacks against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms after a mass shooting.
Additional threats aimed at freedom have been highlighted recently by two events. One of those is the victory in a Democratic primary of a socialist candidate for the Senate.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is the new socialist star on the leftist horizon. She rose to fame after knocking off the number four Democrat in the Senate in a New York primary. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Here is a small sampling of the DSA agenda which is growing in popularity among millennial Democrats in America.
while the agenda of the DSA is utterly unworkable and insane — nationalized healthcare, guaranteed housing, guaranteed government jobs — the Democratic Party is happy to embrace the crowd, even if it means embracing unworkable policies.
The other notable event arrived courtesy of the New York Times in a front-page story from Sunday, July 1, 2018. A 2000 word skreed by writer Adam Liptak complains that the First Amendment is now being “weaponized” by the Right.
The gist of his complaint is that since the Right is now seeing Supreme Court victories, the right to free speech needs some …umm… adjustment. Ben Shapiro puts it this way:
Since they’re losing the public debate, Leftists have decided that the real problem is that the rules of the game – that everyone gets to say what they want – are rigged. If they could simply redefine the rules of the game, they’d suddenly see success, culturally and electorally. To that end, the First Amendment must be curbed so that they can finally have a fighting chance at victory.
Keeping the Inheritance of Independence Intact
There is a large problem with the anti-independence stance of the Left. It is the same difficulty which plagues Marxists under any label. This is the insistence that government must take the place of God under any leftist system.
The greatest key to keeping the inheritance of independence intact and thriving is acknowledging and honoring our dependence upon God as a people. This was perhaps best expressed by founder Benjamin Franklin. When the debate over the construction of the Constitution was bogged down, Franklin rose and addressed the other delegates.
We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.
Franklin went on to call for an extended time for prayer to ask for guidance and blessing from God before they continued. He was convinced, as were all the signers of the Declaration earlier, that it was only the providence of the LORD which enabled any person, and any nation, to reap the benefits of true liberty.
If America is to continue and possibly thrive in the future, it will only happen with the aid of God. That will only occur when the people of America turn back to the Divine Author of liberty.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 [ESV]
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Constitution of the United States with the Declaration of Independence, National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2009, 2012
The Light and The Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Fleming H. Revell Company, New Jersey, 1977
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Inset Image 4 courtesy of Shane Armas Korpisto’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
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