“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….”
I have an old American History book written by a long dead historian, Samuel Eliot Morison. He is one of my favorites, and that old book, with the spine barely hanging on and the cover worn to where I can barely read the title, is something I will always possess. It is filled with handwritten notes and thoughts and underlined passages of people and things I thought were worthy of remembering.
There are things that are worthy of remembering; ideas that are transcendent and, when lost forever, extinguish a light that shone on the best of humankind; a sentiment that tells us we are better than our normal predilection for tribalism, mutual distrust and hatred, and violence and oppression. Nothing lasts forever. Entropy applies to societies, too.
I looked back through that old book and found a passage I remember. In it, Morison described the Declaration.
“If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worth while. The bill of wrongs against George III and Parliament, naturally, is exaggerated. Facts will not sustain many of the alleged “injuries and usurpations.” But the beauty and cogency of the preamble, reaching back to remotest antiquity and forward to an indefinite future, have lifted the hearts of millions of men and will continue to do so:
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.
These words were more revolutionary than anything written by Robespierre, Marx, or Lenin, more explosive than the atom, a continual challenge to ourselves, as well as an inspiration to the oppressed of all the world.”
Enjoy your 4th of July. Let’s hope we continue to have them.