Come July 4th, every American draws inspiration from the lofty ideals and courage with which 56 signatories declared themselves the Representatives of the United States of America. The Declaration also absolved America from all allegiance to the British Crown, declared them to be free and Independent States. It vested them with full powers to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do. They also pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.
Yes, all the above were laid down by the Declaration of American Independence, the signing of which is celebrated every year on the 4th of July. However, this day is a celebration of more than the acts that occurred on one day. We celebrate the philosophy that serves as the basis of America’s culture, economy, and political system.
Argument for Liberty:
The high moral stance of the Declaration of Independence sets the foundation for many a modern political philosophy. The Declaration presupposes inalienable natural rights of humans to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the need for consent from the governed for instituting a just government. Here is human liberty which goes beyond the Magna Carta which asserts that the citizens’ rights and liberties are granted by the royal sovereign.
The Declaration of American Independence anchors essential human rights in universal principles rather than political institutions, has secured them from being taken away at will, without any notice. Abraham Lincoln exhorted all Americans to believe in the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that all men are created equal in those inalienable rights, and called it ‘our chart of liberty’ and the immortal emblem of Humanity. This served as the basis for his commitment to abolish slavery and eliminate the degradation of another race.
The Declaration holds up principles which can be applied to any nation or peoples who have toiled under the yoke of oppression. The perspicacity of the forefathers of America in safeguarding the rights of American citizens has set an example for many other declarations of independence and many a national constitution; inspiring contemporaries and posterity.
However, not everyone concurs!
A newly registered non-profit group named ‘Organizing for Secular Justice’ filed a lawsuit last week through the ACLU against the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They want the Declaration of Independence to be removed from public viewing at the Capitol Rotunda, saying there is no place for it in a truly free and modern society as its multiple references to God are archaic as well as ignorant, tyrannical, and oppressive to everyday Americans! They want the Declaration to be altered, to make it acceptable to their individual wishes and sensibilities.
The forefathers may have already answered such contentions by providing that all Americans shall enjoy unambiguous rights to practice any religion – by enshrining the Bill of Rights in the constitution. They prohibit the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion or impeding the free exercise of religion. Let us remember that the intent was to establish a society based on inclusion, tolerance and cooperation.
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’
These same rights should apply to the right to take the name of God. Anyway, since the matter is sub judice at the moment, let us wait for the outcome.
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