INDEPENDENCE Day is upon us again.
Today July 4 we celebrate the Declaration of Independence on July 4 1776.
The forefathers, the great white men who ran America, declared independence from Great Britain.
The Declaration of Independence is a document that announced that the 13 American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as 13 newly independent sovereign states and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation, the United States of America.
The interpretation of the Declaration has been subject of much scholarly inquiry.
The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution.
The Declaration’s well known statement is the one on human rights; this is found in the second sentence.
“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.”
What does Independence mean to Americans?
The question that most scholars ask is, “Has the Declaration of Independence lost its meaning?”
Is the document still relevant in today’s world?
Civil liberties are fading by the day in America.
Daily we debate infringements on our freedoms or due process, and we argue whether our government – derived from the will of the people – is working correctly.
Americans seem to have nothing that really brings them together.
Everything from health care policy to immigration divides us more than it unites us.
The internet allows us to tear apart our fellow Americans’ throats from the comforts of our keyboards.
Commercialism is probably the one thing that keeps us together.
We love to shop.
If we could believe President George Bush Jnr, that if we stopped shopping “the terrorists would win”, then it is safe to say America is a nation of shoppers.
A political independent, Tricia Quinn, who lives in Orlando, says that Americans hold their Independence Day in romantic idealism.
“On Independence Day we are trying to put aside our differences and hope that we all believe in the same thing that we are playing from the same rule book.” The rule book being the Constitution.
One then would ask, which one should be celebrated, the Declaration of Independence (which is the idea to build a house) or the Constitution (the house itself).
The Declaration of Independence is about America’s aspirations and the Constitution is about how to reach those aspirations says historian and educator, who is also President of Bucknell University, Brian Mitchell.
The Constitution is what precipitates and provokes debate.
Mark Oleszek, a political scientist at Albright College says that an analysis of roll-call votes in Congress tells us that Democrats and Republicans are farther apart than at any point in American history.
Bruce Thornton, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, says Americans have lost the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence.
He says rarely do Americans hear about freedom and independence in the context of limits and values.
He claims the transformation of political freedom into licence has degraded our politics and paved the way for ‘soft despotism’.
While scholars, thinkers and political scientists are musing about where America is headed, the ordinary American celebrates Independence Day with family reunions, carnivals, fairs, fireworks, barbecues, and picnics.
What has become an easy life for America did not come easily and gradually those long fought for freedoms are eroding.
One day we might wake up and find that the Bill of Rights is not worth the paper it is written on.
INDEPENDENCE Day is upon us again.