Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Heard The Declaration of Independence Read in the Streets

I heard The Declaration of Independence read in the streets the other day.

It was proclaimed in a loud voice that:

“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 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.”

The town’s crier went on to read that “all men are created equal;” that governments are meant to serve the people and to get their power from the people they serve, not vice versa; and that whenever a government grossly forgets its place, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it” and to create a new one.

The Declaration was greeted with a lot of “Huzzahs!” though there was some definite skepticism and even disgust expressed among the crowd of listeners.

Some people didn’t think the effort necessary. Others believed the king was in the right; to say otherwise, they snipped, was absurd and offensive. And while I didn’t take any polls, chances are that a majority of those assembled were sunshine patriots who would slink away or shut up as soon as it became too difficult.

Yes, they recognized they were being treated unjustly, but they didn’t want to suffer any further than they absolutely had to, and so they would submit to whoever they needed to. They just required a reminder or two that they actually belonged with the first group of people in the crowd: the ones who thought freedom was too much of a bother.

I sat on a modern bench in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, taking all of that in. They say that history repeats itself, and it was striking how true that seems today.

Both the king back then and our current government – not just Obama – “has refused” to pass laws that are “wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

They both “erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” Today, it’s not in the form of red-coated soldiers invading our houses, but the IRS absconding a quarter to a third of our paychecks.

And they are both equally guilty of “taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” Our highest offices were never supposed to be so powerful or so bloated.

That’s the short list of similarities. But short or long, it begs this question: Are we going to accept such injustice… or will we keep our courageous Founding Father’s legacy?

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