From Our Prescott, Valley, AZ correspondent
Most Americans today view Independence Day as another holiday with fireworks and barbequing in the backyard or local park, or waterskiing at the lake or perhaps participating in a hometown parade. The actual document or proclamation of the Declaration of Independence is not likely to be reading material in celebrations today, even though it is readily available online as well as in pamphlets, booklets and other sources.
It was read more intensely when it was distributed by patriots riding on horseback over 200 years ago. The document was carried throughout the colonies so the people at the time could be made aware of what the Declaration said and meant. An original signer of the Declaration, John Hancock, wanted people to be universally informed, and Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, called it “an expression of the American Mind.”
What Jefferson said about the American mindset would likely not apply to contemporary Americans and leaders today. Jefferson’s thoughts and ideas would be lost on those today as his view of government was one of it as a threat to liberty that would require eternal vigilance to keep the government in check.
The significance of the Declaration has dwindled because Americans have failed to digest and understand the words in it, and like other founding documents its true meaning and even its existence has been removed from history classes at many levels. Its message has been lost in the shuffle of politics and the philosophy of the bureaucracy, which has won out over universal principles.
Few people access the Declaration on their own, or take the time to read the words and content that the 56 original signers pledged to protect with their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Their strong words did not leave out the fact that there would be hazards with independence, like sacrifice, loss, long-suffering and patience, and those kinds of risks are what a number of Americans today are unwilling to endure, even for the sake of independence.
The Declaration has lost its significance because of the unwillingness of large sections of the American population to understand how the principles within the document were meant to be pursued through continual diligence and efforts to uphold them. Many Americans have become apathetic towards the principles and allowed the government to override their rights.
The document’s purpose was to secure the rights of the people and that government was to derive its power through those same people-“the consent of the governed.” If the rights of the people are betrayed, then they can change or abolish the government.
Americans today want the equality that is set out in the Declaration in “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but they don’t want to do the hard work to make it real in their own lives and the lives of others because of their own limitations and what the government overreach has done to restrain individual liberty and equality.
Independence and equality require commitment and Americans need to understand that the Declaration has lost significance because of their lack of appreciation for both the document and the founders that laid the groundwork for citizens to pursue their unalienable rights.
The steps or principles are in place for citizens to follow. It is the doing that is the hard part, and no one doubts that the path can be extremely difficult, but there are those citizens who are doing their level best to follow the examples, while others would rather start another revolution to break down, reinterpret and abolish the principles to advance their liberal and socialist views of today’s America.
The Declaration of Independence must become increasingly more significant than it once was for many Americans to see the light and gain the same kind of strength and moral fiber that the founders possessed. It’s all in making the commitment to understanding the Declaration, adhering to it and remembering that the sacrifices of patriots made it all possible for them in the first place.