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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Declaration of Independence: A Closer Look

by Chuck McGlawn
While the foundations and underpinnings of “natural law” are taking root in the fertile soil of the "New World", they are, at the same time, being read and studied by the Founding Fathers who ushered in a completely new attitude towards RIGHTS, which took on the name “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS”, or “INALIENABLE RIGHTS”. The precise elements, the exact formulation and perfect timing all coalesced to give birth to this completely new concept in man’s attitude toward RIGHTS and a brand new governance based on that attitude. In short, we had arrived at that time in our philosophical evolution that man felt that he had the capacity for self-government.This time in our philosophical evolution made the concept of  “might makes right” ready to be discarded into the trash heap of history. This is the period when we realized that “the divine right of Kings” no longer held any significance, and the people no longer needed a monarch supposedly put in power by God to guide us through life.This was a gigantic step forward in man's attitude towards RIGHTS.

This was not only a completely new attitude toward RIGHTS; it also spawned a completely new relationship between man and his government. This step in the evolution has literally redefined nationhood, even though historians have not realized, or have chosen to ignore this giant step forward in the evolution of humankind. For the first time in the history of nationhood, the nation would be the servant of man, and not the reverse. The thirteen original colonies were to remain sovereign, linked only by the Articles of Confederation and later the Constitution.  

If you have any doubts as that last statement I invite you to read very carefully the last paragraph, copied from Wikipedia, you will find it at the bottom of this article.

This entire miracle is laid-out in just one paragraph of the Declaration of Independence; it is a paragraph that I have come to believe that even the author did not completely understand. The Declaration of Independence is the thread that stitched together thirteen independent States into one nation, and serves as the “Mission Statement” for that nation. It lays out the basic plan as to what our founding fathers wanted to accomplish with the government that would be created if we fought off the British Monarchy. The Declaration of Independence was the red flag waved in front of the bull to excite the bull to attack. It was the Declaration of Independence that energized enough of the colonist to think they could take on the British Empire.

Let us dissect and take a closer look at the components of that paragraph of the Declaration of Independence through eyes that are 232 years farther along the evolutionary process. Let us start with, We hold these truths to be self-evident… This statement indicates that the underpinnings of these concepts were well established, and were almost universally understood by 1776. The statement basically says, “If you look around you will come to the same conclusion. The Declaration of Independence continues with, …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. WOW, what a powerfully insightful sentence. It lays out man’s rights, (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) with the dictum that these rights are natural rights granted by nature or the Creator. That they cannot be taken way. Not even by the government being created. They are “unalienable” And that these truths are confirmed simply by observation of natural law.

Let us look just a little closer. I am questioning the use of the words “among these…” Because you have three and only three RIGHTS. Simply by being born you have the right to LIFE. Moreover, you have the RIGHT to do with that life anything you want to do that is called LIBERTY. Furthermore you have the RIGHT to plan and conduct that life in a way that you think will maximize your happiness. Can you think of any more RIGHTS that the three so eloquently listed could be among? (These RIGHTS are all yours, so long as what you do does not interfere with another's right to do what he or she wants to do with their life).

Next, the framers make a vitally important assertion. “That to secure these rights”, (notice here that these are rights that we had even before we had governments to "secure" them.) “Governments are instituted among Men”. Please note here exactly what is being said, that “We The People” are going to engaged in a contract with our (soon to be formed) government to “secure” (that is to protect) our rights. It is also important to note that men make government, and therefore men precede government. This means that our National Government is the agent to and servant of the States and the men that created the States. Putting the States and man in the positions of power, and not the reverse.

Now the framers are going to designate from where our national government gets its powers, and at the same time put an important limitation on that governmental power. The Declaration of Independence says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.There you have it. If government gets its power from the governed, it follows that man cannot create a government and give to that government powers that man himself does not have. Let me say that again. . If our national government gets its power from the governed, then the government cannot have powers that man himself does not have. Now we are talking here about a whole new concept in governance, where independent States, thirteen to be exact, create the framework of a nation.

Now, let us ask two questions to clarify the thinking about the power of government. Remember we are only talking about the National Government. The State, the County and the City governments do not enter into these limitations. Question #1, does man have the RIGHT to defend his own life and property? The answer to that question is YES.  Therefore, man can institute a National Government and share with that Government the power to protect life and property. In fact, that is the justification for the military for national DEFENSE, a police force for property protection. and a court system to adjudicate crimes against man and property.
Question #2, [And I am serious here.] Does man (that is an individual man) have the RIGHT to take money from your pocket, and give it to someone else that he thinks needs it more? The answer to that question is NO. Please note, if an individual man does not have the RIGHT to take money from one and give it to another. Then how could a collection of individual men derive such a power?) Therefore, it would follow that if man does not have that right then he cannot create a National Government, and give to that National Government the power to take money from one and give it to another that the government thinks needs it more.

This means our National Government can tax us to perform the job of National Defense and create a Judicial system. The National Government has no power to extract taxes from you to educate children, no matter how badly you may think children need educating. It means that our national government can have no power to extract taxes from you to fund social welfare, no matter how needy you think some people are. This restriction on the National Government does not prevent the individual States and Counties and Cities from taxing to support those activities.
As long as we are talking about the National Government, it also can have no power to extract taxes for health care providing, business promoting. Our National Government should not be involved in, Park building, educational standards setting, régime changing, weather reporting, democracy spreading. The National Government’s job description does not include database keeping, farmer saving, speed limit setting, toilet designing, e-mail reading, phone tapping, or the dozens of other things that the National Government is either financing or regulating.
The future of our already grossly eroded RIGHTS is grim indeed. With the two major parties competing with each other to buy your votes with increased spending and increased regulation, individual RIGHTS will continue to wane. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Let me quickly add, things will get better. History, moving ever forward, does not ever make a U-Turn.

Here is the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Read it carefully.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And 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.

Did you catch it? Do you see something that you have never seen before? If no, please contact this author either for some well needed “eye-opening” exercises or to join me in spreading this revelation.

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