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Friday, July 04, 2008

I Believe in the Promise of America

When was the last time you actually read all the text of the Declaration of Independence? I have no idea how long it has been for me, but I made a point of looking at it this morning after watching a display of "who can cram the most flags into their outfit to prove that they're a good American?"

It's very frustrating for me to discuss my feelings about being an American because I am not an all or nothing kind of girl. I believe you can love your country and not love every last bit of it. I believe you can rail against bigotry and hate and still be a good American - despite the contrary opinions of those around me.

I do love my country. I am happy to be here and enjoy the freedoms that are promised to me, and I do appreciate our service men and women. That said, I don't believe that just because my country engages in an action makes it the ethical or right thing to do. I don't believe that American foreign policy automatically makes the world a better place, in fact it is making the world a much uglier and more dangerous place, both within the United States and outside of her borders.

If you read through the full text of the Declaration of Independence, which I cut and pasted in full below, you will find that many of the offenses of the King of Great Britain that were listed in that document, the Government of the United States of America is currently engaged in today.

I do believe that we can achieve and embody the promise of this document and the promise of the Constitution of the United States of America, but it will take a return to ethics and integrity in the highest ranking leaders of this nation. I believe in the promise of America; I hope to see us deliver on that promise in my lifetime.

Please take a moment to carefully consider this document.

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 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.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

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.

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Shelle said...

I agree...and I Love the Declaration of Independance...Politics period has become a scary thing!

JHS said...

A wonderful July 4th reflection and reminder. You know that, as an attorney, I love the fact that you went back to the original document. :-)

Thanks for answering the challenge and participating.

Moose Nuggets said...

I think the Declaration Of Independence has a certain beauty that even the Constitution can't match. It hasn't changed in the last 227 years, where as, the Constitution has, of necessity, changed several times. it cannot supersede the Constitution, but it is the parent from which the constitution was derived.

As to the return to ethics... I whole heartedly agree, and wish to point out that this is not a problem with just one side of the aisle or the other. This is a problem where our election system favors those who lie, cheat, and steal. I don't have a good solution, but I know that recently enacted campaign reforms have done little at best and at worst have made it easier for people with big $ to influence elections.

carolyn said...

woooa you're right, the offenses are too close to what's going on now. Integrity, honesty and ethics are enemies to those in power now. Those in power cater to special interests and distract us with bread and circuses. And sadly, we waste our energies fighting back and forth over fringe issues, denigrate each other while the politicians laugh and get away with murder. Notice how media thrives on high school politics? They break us apart in order to keep the status quo. I'm afraid people will have to take a beating before opening their eyes and demand real change in government. This country needs serious surgery and chemo.
Any way, it's a freaking beautiful summer and i hope you're having a good time!

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