Preserving the Declaration
A fascinating little video on preserving the Declaration of Independence.
It is of course very important that the physical document be preserved. However, it is much more important that the spirit of the document be preserved. On the Fourth of July we do not merely engage in ancestor worship. The principles of the American Revolution, immortally set forth in the Declaration, are just as important today as they were then, and almost as controversial.
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, 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 effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
1. God given rights.
2. Government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.
3. A right of revolution when Government becomes destructive of God given unalienable rights.
Growing up with these concepts most Americans fail to understand how truly revolutionary these assertions were in 1776, and how revolutionary they truly still are around much of the globe.
In my family each year on the Fourth we have a family reading of the Declaration, each member of the family reading a part of the text. The Declaration was not meant to be shut up in books, forgotten, or worshiped as some sort of priceless heirloom. It was meant to be read, thought about and argued about. On the Fourth next Monday, along with the barbecues, the fireworks, and enjoying the day off, take a few minutes to look at the text of the Declaration, and remember that what is said there is not reserved for just one day of the calendar alone. At least we can do better with the Declaration after brushing up on it a bit, than Barney Fife did with the Preamble to the Constitution!