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.
Ah, but its the the next bit that makes the difference. It's the next bit that justified a bloody war that had already been raging for 14 months by the time it was written and would drag on for nearly eight and a half years. It's the next bit that sanctified the 50,000 American casualties -- a quarter of the rebels who took up arms. It's the next brilliant sentence by which a band of highly educated traitors justified their treason. And it's the next bit that tyrants and their willing subjects are so apt to forget:
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.
Most folks today -- certainly nearly all the folks actually in the government -- somehow imagine that, having been true throughout human history, this stopped being true after the late 18th Century. Or they believe that the rules were magically changed on this continent, or don't apply in countries where people appear to vote, or have been superseded by technology. But some things -- like the rights God gives man -- do not change. Not ever. Not anywhere.
I really want to ask those smug, sanctimonious fellows, "just what part of 'alter or abolish' don't you understand?" King George and his ministers never imagined they could be altered or abolished, either, and look how that worked out for them. You cannot really be as arrogant as someone who thought his reign was ordained by God. Can you?
Alter or abolish. Shove that through your Prism. Feed that to your Carnivore. Crunch that in your algorithm.
As for you, as you celebrate Independence Day, I want to encourage you to post or tweet or email that third sentence of the Declaration of Independence. Maybe read it during a cellphone call -- an international call would be best. If you are travelling, perhaps you can share it with your companion while you wait in line at the TSA checkpoint.
Because let's face it: You can grill all the hot dogs, bake all the apple pie, light all the fireworks and wave all the flags you want to. But if you're not on somebody's watch list, you can hardly count yourself a patriot these days.