A Republic – 8.0 The Real Founding Document
“America did not invent human rights, human rights invented America”. Jimmy Carter
A few wise men got together on July 4, 1776 and, backed by wise women, made this country.
Women by the way were and are key. In a government where the few rule the many, domination is the name of the game. Power rules. The strong get the goodies. When that happens, it is women who get the short end of the stick. They were big supporters of democracy. Like everything else it could not have been and cannot be done without them.
The key to the USA is that it is based on ideals. This is important. The founding document of this country is NOT the Constitution. It is the Declaration of Independence. That’s where the American People declared themselves to be free from the domination form of government. These ideals are a lighthouse for you to look to when you get a little lost.
I found out how key these ideals are and how universal they are one time in Russia. I was trying to explain the way democracy works and what skills the people have to have to make it work. I used the word “individuality” in my presentation about the skills needed by the people in a democracy. My interpreter stopped in mid-sentence. She said, “There is a word in Russian that they use for that, but it means nothing like what you are trying to say. There is no such thing as individuality here in the sense you mean it. You will have to explain it.” I was stumped. How do you explain so basic a concept of individuality?
I thrashed around in my mind while 200+ people, students, teachers, and administrators from a foreign country listened for an answer. These people had never known any other idea of life other than to be a cog in a wheel, a wheel they had no control over. A wheel based on pure power that pretended to serve certain communist ideals, but in reality was the same old dictatorship they had had for centuries. How do I explain this to people who have no clue what it is? There is no word for it in their language. Then it just popped into my head. I would recite the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, and then explain it in detail. That would allow me to show them the ideals, including the concept of individuality, and see if they liked them. After all they are the basic philosophic building blocks of all modern democracy. So I recited the words, and as they were translated into Russian the whole audience started to sit up in their chairs. You could hear the movements, the feet shuffling, the chairs barely creaking. They all started to lean forward. You could have heard a pin drop. You could feel the electricity in the room. It was amazing. Those two hundred year old words were speaking to these people just as they have spoken to millions before. If I didn’t know before that our nation is built on universal truths I did then, and I do now.
Let’s go over them again for ourselves. See what you sense when you read them. Forget your ideas about where the country is now and just focus on the original words and ideas. Feel them, think about them, try to understand them as they were written, try to remember and understand why they were written.
“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.”
Thomas Jefferson 1776
Wow! What powerful words. You could see these words build a dream in these people’s minds. How did you do? Did you dream just then of a great country that can change the world and help humanity? I bet many of you did because that is what your country is about. It is about a dream. A dream of all humanity. All people love to hear these words because they are the dream of all humanity. A dream that all can live together in relative peace and be free to accomplish their own dreams without being forced to follow someone else’s.
Let’s look at these words a little bit more closely.
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident
That is, not subject to human whim, not changeable by humans or any institution they might create.
that all Men are created equal
That is equal in the beginning. But humans (men was used as a generalization then) have fallen far from their original state and are not equal now.
that they are endowed by their Creator
That you and all of us are creatures of a higher being, God, who is then the ultimate ruler of the nation through You the PEOPLE. You & I were all put here by a Creator for the purpose of seeking that equality again – by your and my own choice.
with certain unalienable Rights
That certain rights have been given to you by God that likewise are not subject to change by humans or their institutions.
that among these are
There are more than just these. These are the basic ones.
You have the right to the life you came to lead.
You have the right to pursue that life of your own free choice without interference from your government.
and the Pursuit of Happiness
And in the way you choose as long as it does not cause harm to others or interfere with their same rights.
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men
The purpose of any government is to ensure the people’s rights.
deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed
These governments must have your approval and only have such powers as they are given by You the PEOPLE.
that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
Since You the PEOPLE are the boss, ideally under God’s guidance, you have the right to change your government and its powers if you wish.
and to institute new Government,
You can change the current one or start a new one if you wish.
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.
You should make sure that any government you form should ensure your safety and your rights while allowing you to pursue your lives as you see fit.
It was the first of many basic concepts that I would have to explain. I have learned through experience and seeing it for myself that this is pretty much the only country that has all of these basic concepts built in to our government and way of life. It is not just the Constitution and the Declaration after all. It is your internal conviction that it is what it is that makes it all work. You expect this way of life that others only dream of. This country, warts and all, is indeed the shining city on the hill. If you don’t like the way it looks, then let’s talk about changing it. Don’t just grouse and gripe, try to get your fellow rulers to see it your way. Remember convince, not coerce or force your fellow rulers. They are all equal and have the same rights as you do regardless of how they look and seem to you.
This country is about a whole new way of looking at the world – a world where all are important and all are given the chance to better themselves. Where everyone works to make themselves better and their world better. Where you choose your own governments to work for you. Where you work to make a world where reason and reflection rule, rather than force and whim.
Like it or not, you & I are the hope of the world. Your actions will affect all of human history. Remember the British Peer – “if you fail, democracy dies with you”. A sobering thought. You the PEOPLE of the United States carry the hope of the world on your shoulders. If you don’t believe it, ask an immigrant.
You should take your responsibility seriously. This nation was and is truly a world revolution. And you are the key piece. You are the key beneficiaries. You are what it is all about, you, the people. And if those people before you did not care it would not be here. Think about it. What if Thomas Jefferson and those guys wrote and spoke those wonderful words and no one picked up the rifle and backed them up? You too need to pick up the cause if it is to succeed. You are the beneficiaries of this form of government. If you don’t make it work, who will? You the PEOPLE have a great responsibility to yourselves, your children, and history to make this dream a reality. Start to see yourselves that way and see what a difference it makes in your lives.
Jimmy Carter once said, “America didn’t invent human rights, human rights invented America.” He is right. The Founders regenerated this dream of all people in 1776. Many people spilled lots of blood over the years to keep it alive. It is not just a USA dream; it is the world’s dream. It is up to you and I to not only keep it going, but to hold it up so others can see it. You & I need to hold this truth high. The Founders trusted that YOU could change the world and make it safe for democracy. You will tell history whether they were right or wrong.
See Chap 11, A Suggested Approach for an easy fun way for you and your neighbors to make this happen.