July 4, 2013
Amid all the barbecues and fireworks today in the Land of the Free, it may be worth a short pause to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson some 237-years ago:
“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.”
In one of the most eloquent treatises in history, Jefferson lays out that human beings are born free. And that we create governments in order to stay free.
Further, whenever governments become destructive to this effort, human beings have a right to dissolve the government and create a new one.
Jefferson then lays out an entire laundry list of grievances against the British King that have compelled the colonists to throw off the chains of tyranny and form a new government. This “long train of abuses” includes:
- 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 obstructed the Administration of Justice
- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
As the modern, dysfunctional version of the US government has become little better than the court of King George III, one might make the exact same arguments today.
- They have employed a multitude of offices, from the National Security Agency to the US Postal Service, to illegally spy on their citizens.
- They have used the power and intimidation of tax authorities to bully political opposition groups.
- They have authorized the military detention and drone assassination of their own citizens.
- They have indebted future generations who will not be born for decades, and squandered the nations wealth on fraud, waste, and foreign military folly.
- They have destroyed the primary function of the free market by awarding supreme monetary authority to a tiny banking elite.
- They have passed tomes of new laws and regulations which criminalize everything from collecting rainwater to childhood lemonade stands.
I’m sure you would have a several more to add to this list. And I’d be curious to hear from you about it.
By Jefferson’s own standard, it seems rather clear that the government– most governments– have become destructive against their higher purpose: to safeguard the people’s liberty.
Today shouldn’t be a celebration… it should be a memorial service. Or at least a time to reflect heavily– when will enough finally be enough? When will it be time to act?