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Ideals of our Declaration of Independence are still relevant today

Last week in this column I included two paragraphs of a document written more than 200 years ago — 244 years to be exact.

I put those words down without identifying the document from which they came and asked the readers for their comments. I received none. In some respect, I’m not too surprised. Some people, I’m sure, recognized the words and the document. Others, I’m also sure, slept through history class and didn’t recognize the words. Just for the sake of reminding folks, I’ll repeat them again:

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the equal and independent 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 change.

“We hold these truths to be (sacred and undeniable) self-evident, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become 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.”

The words are from the Declaration of Independence, written at a time when the then-British colony known as the Americas was under stress from what were perceived to be injustices levied by the Crown on its distant subjects. It was the colonists’ way of telling King George III, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

The words in the Declaration are in some ways pretty liberal, though not as liberal as the document that followed, our Constitution. Over the years, it seems we have forgotten some of the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence, especially the idea “that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

And the events that have occurred over the past few months have put new meaning to those ideals, along with the responsibility of government to ensure that we are able to enjoy our rights.

In the course of our growth as a nation, the U.S. has gone through many changes that have affected life in our country. It’s time again for a change; a change for better government.

The ideals in the Declaration of Independence served as the blueprint for a constitution and a new form of government and they should be the pattern for our leaders to follow and remember they serve us, not a political party or the folks who contribute the most.

 

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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