It’s Independence Day. Two hundred and thirty-six years ago, a group of men gathered and drafted a treasonous declaration under the threat of certain death should the British Crown identify and capture them. The document begins profoundly and, in hindsight, prophetically.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 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 separation.
“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 ...”
These words bring chills every time I read them and yet, even after two centuries, we still struggle to understand the implications of those poetic and thoughtful words. For nearly a century those words excluded slaves. For a century and a half they excluded women. Today, so many on the fringe lament that they remain excluded from the thought that “all men are created equal.”
Too few of us have read the essential document and reflected on its significance. The document continues:
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
“He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good ...
“He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people ...
“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 made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.’
“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation ...
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent ... He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people ...
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people ...
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Replace the King of England with corporate America and a new declaration can and should be crafted.
I hope you enjoy this holiday and take the time to reflect on and consider the implications and courage of those who blazed our trail to freedom.