Well I declare

Lori Cameron

Guest Columnist

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 …

-United States Declaration of Independence

If you haven’t read the full document, I highly suggest you do. The above is referred to as the immortal declaration. Why? Consider the first clause; “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” That means no one gets to tell us this part; it’s self-evident.

Go on to the next clause; “that all men are created equal.” We all come into this world the exact same way, naked and unhappy. Some of us are taken to homes of wealth and privilege, and some taken to shanties, but we are ALL created equal.

“They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This is great news! That means that we all come into the world equal, but we already have a leg up right from the get-go! We are endowed not by man, not by the government, not by our parents, but by the Creator, Himself. We are given unalienable rights. Unalienable is a word that we rarely use today, but it means ‘certain rights that are given to all. Certain rights that cannot be taken away, save for a few exceptions.’ I know each of you could dash off what seems to be unalienable rights being denied, and you may be right. The government is made by man. We are not perfect, though I believe that most people try.

Last: “among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” We aren’t guaranteed happiness, we are guaranteed the pursuit of it. None of these words captures my attention moreso than ‘among.’ Most people skitter past that to get to the good stuff in the clause, the stuff they know. But think for a moment. ‘Among these.’ Wait - you mean there’s MORE? Yup, there is.

Most of the people of our great nation can rattle these things off, but they never pay attention to that word right there in front of them - “among.” Patrick Henry was an awfully stubborn man. Our own county is named after him. He (pardon the phrase) pitched a hissy to have a bill drafted drawing out MORE of these unalienable rights. Representatives from other states joined him, and when there are enough ring-tailed fits thrown, usually something gets done. Voíla! Our Bill of Rights was born.

The Bill of Rights is full of all kinds of good stuff for the American people. It guarantees that I can write this without fear of repercussion. It guarantees I can read it out loud. They are a bill of ten rights, but inside those ten are packed many more. I suggest you read them. Read the whole thing. There are amendments. The Declaration becomes more defined, and not for the right of the government, but for your rights. Not exercising your rights or not knowing what they are flies in the face of the spirit of our forefathers in preparing these documents.

We, the people (this is actually a phrase from the Constitution, humor me), cannot defend rights we do not know we have. We, the people, are guaranteed three things right there in the first paragraph. We, the people, drafted a Bill of Rights to tell what our rights as Americans are, and then, as time went on, they gave us MORE, not fewer. Here’s a question for you; What are they? What are your rights as an American? Read. Learn. You cannot defend what you don’t know is yours.

The Constitution is a wonderful document, and I may go on a rant about it another time, but right now, human rights, OUR rights, AMERICAN rights are in the news every single day. We must protect our rights -- that is another privilege merely implied by this great document that our country leans so heavily on. Learn all of your rights as an American. Have an opinion based on fact, not heart or guess. It’s all right there for us - for each and every one of us.

In conclusion, I nearly stopped with those unalienable rights. I thought the next sentence may be too inflammatory, but you know what? It’s there. It’s been there for well over two hundred years, and fear of non-publishment or of hurting someone’s feelings should not keep me from quoting the rest of the paragraph. It says, “-That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed-“ You are the governed, and so am I. In order to secure your rights, do you consent to what you’re being handed?