July 4, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 11

Declaring our independence in a modern view

In our opinion

There are 1,338 words in the Declaration of Independence, 356 of which will likely be highlighted as our country celebrates its 237 years of existence this week. Of those 356 words, most of the attention is given to just 55, and of those, “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” get the lion’s share.

But the rest of the document announcing our separation from England is just as important, if not as poetic. It’s a list of grievances colonists had against King George III and they’re the real reasons why some of our ancestors decided to sever ties and chart a new course; 707 words on why colonists could no longer trust their government.

 He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

 He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

 He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

 He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

 He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

 For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

 For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury

These are just a few of the listed grievances our founder’s cited in defining their right to “alter or abolish” a government they felt no longer represented them and had in fact become destructive to their existence as a free people.

There are many people in our country today who believe our government is charting a similar course, although maybe not to the extremes of 237 years ago. We wonder how a “Declaration of Independence” might look today if one were written and presented in Washington D.C.

We have a much more representative government than the colonists did, and some of our troubles are brought about by ourselves via inattention to duty to learn about issues and vote those issues rather than voting for a party, a well-liked individual or on twisted facts and innuendo. But many people feel our elected officials no longer represent the majority of the populace, but rather bow down to corporate influences. After all, that’s where the campaign money is, right?

We’re becoming a country of haves and have nots, and it’s the haves who are in the seats of power. Many of us have become hooked on entitlement programs that were never meant to be a way of life, but can’t find the bravery to step out of that cycle.

Others are dependent on the fact that we have large standing armies quartered among us in times of peace, grazing upon the largesse that flows from the military-industrial complex. We are spied upon in all sorts of ways and our privacy is no longer our own, and is often for sale.

This Fourth of July ask if this is truly the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” or if we have given this up for the safety and security of the state.

What would a modern Declaration of Independence look like?

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