In just a few days we’ll celebrate July 4th here in the US – Independence Day. While the Second
Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution of Independence on July 2, 1776, we have traditionally celebrated July 4th – the day the Declaration of Independence was approved. The day is filled with picnics, BBQs, fireworks, parades, & other festivities. I enjoy the fun times (and let’s face it, the day off), but if you really think about it, the Founding Fathers and their supporters were really taking a big risk in declaring independence from Great Britain. This wasn’t simply a matter of losing a war and being subjected to the rule of Britain, the Americans were already British subjects, so anyone supporting the colonists could be considered traitors of the crown. There was a lot more at stake here than some taxes on tea.
I’ll be honest – I haven’t spent much time reading the Declaration of Independence – I grew up in a totally free society. I never questioned that we wouldn’t be free. But, I took a look at those words recently and it really made me think… we’re all created equal, we’ve all been given unalienable Rights – life – liberty – the pursuit of happiness.
I find it interesting that our Founding Fathers stated these unalienable rights are endowed by our ‘Creator’ – yet atheists have these same rights – even though they don’t believe in a Creator – they want their right of Liberty to speak freely against religion. We all want liberty – we want to be free …
We’re all entitled to Life – Why do we take life so lightly? How often do we go through life not making healthy choices or thinking of how our actions will affect us later? Why is it that some believe they have the right to take away life if it isn’t big enough or healthy enough?
Does your right to pursue happiness outweigh my right to pursue happiness? Where do your rights end and mine begin? If I don’t believe in your particular form of happiness, or if I say your happiness infringes on my happiness – who gets to be happy?
This is where respect comes in. The Declaration of Independence only mentions respect one time – in saying it is decent and respectful for the Founding Fathers to declare their reasons for wanting independence. Yet, respect is paramount if we are all going to enjoy our Creator-given unalienable rights. We have the responsibility of being respectful so we can all enjoy our unalienable rights. I don’t have to agree with your opinion, or how you pursue happiness – but I do need to respect your choices. And I would expect the same from you. Respect others enough so that your pursuit of happiness doesn’t infringe on their lives. Just because I disagree with you – doesn’t mean I’m a hater – doesn’t mean I’m mean – it doesn’t mean anything other than I have a different opinion. I’ll respect you and your opinion much more if you don’t try to paint me as a horrible person for disagreeing. In that same vein – I won’t try to shove my opinion down your throat. We can just respectfully disagree.
One thing I think we can all agree on – have fun this 4th of July weekend – be safe – and remember all those who’ve gone before you and fought so valiantly for the freedoms and unalienable rights we have today.