July 4th is a day of celebration for many. Do we remember what we are celebrating? It is the birthday of the United States of America. She’ll be 236 this year. We are celebrating the coming together of the forefathers of the then 13 colonies of the King of England declaring themselves to be the 13 united States of America. They wrote their declaration with facts, wisdom and a faith in God that all men are created equal.
Interestingly, they really meant men as males. In those times, women were considered property. The vote of men of color also didn’t count. But in the mid 1800s the joining of the women’s suffrage (right to vote movement), and abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement led to the black man technically getting his vote in 1870, and women in 1920. Many men and women of different races sacrificed for the right to vote. Many of our forefathers gave their personal fortunes, land, goods, animals and even lives to fight for our freedom from the tyranny of England’s rule. There is a valor that comes to the surface in men and women when they truly believe that they are fulfilling the wishes of their God. Providence means the protective care of God.
The last sentence of the Declaration says, “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.” And some of them lost every bit but their honor, which has become immortalized in this amazing document that has been studied by many different countries also wanting freedom from tyranny.
Would they have signed without the support of each other? Would the Declaration of Independence been signed if they all or most of them hadn’t pledged their loyalty to each other and to the cause? Isn’t it still true today that when a group — whether it be family, school, business, or government — works together, rather than fighting, everyone in that group is stronger and usually more happy, free and able to pursue their authentic lives?
Many of us are familiar with our certain unalienable (unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor) rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Movies have been made about all of them! But what were they talking about when they stated that all men are created equal? Certainly they recognized that there were physical differences. Some were tall, some short, and so on. I’m sure they knew that there were mental differences. Some people excelled in some areas and others in different areas. They probably recognized that there were emotional differences. Some had short fuses but held no grudges; others didn t get upset so fast, but fumed for days, maybe years.
I personally think that they were referring to our spiritual souls. They must have believed that God created us all equal, even though the appearances at every other level were different. They trusted that God knew our souls and was the only one capable of truly judging another, although there were laws created to help keep order in the world, and humans could judge honorably whether those laws were upheld.
So when you enjoy the amazing fireworks, and Fourth of July parties, remember that this birthday helped changed the world. France declared its independence on July 14, 1789. The Declaration of Independence is a living document, and has led to the right to vote for people of color, for women and to many other amendments. Please note in paragraph two that they believed that governments were instilled to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; if they didn t do so, it was the right of the people to alter or abolish that government.
If you read the whole declaration, you’ll see a very long list of their attempts to alter their colonization laws with King George, and at the time they wrote the declaration they decided to institute a new government.
The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence are below. Here is a website if you want to read more: www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/.
The Declaration of Independence of the 13 colonies
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.
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. — 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. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain (George III) is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
They met for days to craft this document, after many debates. You may find that you want to use it for a model for some organization you choose to join or create. And have a happy Fourth of July!
∫ Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in the community to ‘step into the corner’ for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Email questions or concerns facing youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org