In case you don’t know, or need to be reminded, this image is a copy of “The American Declaration of Independence”. By the time it was ratified in July of 1776, the Thirteen American Colonies had been at war with Great Britain for over a year. Therefore, this document was not written for the purpose of declaring war. Instead, it was written as a call to arms when many of the colonists still hoped for peace and reconciliation.
The Rebels (aka the Continental Congress) chose Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration. It was ratified on July 4 and sent directly to a printer named Dunlap who spent that whole night setting type, correcting it, and running off the broadside sheets. It is unknown exactly how many Dunlap broadsides were originally printed, but the number is estimated at about 200. Over the next few days copies were carried throughout the 13 former colonies (now states) and read in public. They were also copied and reprinted wherever printing presses could be found.
As I mentioned in previous posts (#2 and #4), repetition is a powerful control technique. Within a week, one document had reached thousands. What is more important, its words have continued to be repeated until the present day. However, some of the words have been repeated more than others. The most famous, and the most relevant to this COVID Independence Day are:
“…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…”
Most Americans today would agree that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are basic human rights—“unalienable Rights. However, when health experts claimed that there was a dangerous Coronavirus Pandemic, city and state governments asked their citizens to give up Liberty and stay home in the interests of preserving Life. Most people gave their consent with very little protest. We were also asked to give up the pursuit of Happiness, unless it could be done inside the home. Again, we found ways to pursue as much Happiness as we could while self-quarantining. We all assumed, of course, that the situation would be a temporary.
As days turned into weeks we became aware that the virus did not affect all people equally. We began to wonder about the necessity of giving up so much Liberty and Happiness. What is more, in New York City, the so-called quarantine lasted 78 days—not the 40 days that the name implies. Without Liberty and Happiness, Life became very gray. Finally, as winter turned into spring, people started going outside without waiting for permission. The Government took the hint and began to lift restrictions claiming that the danger had past.
Are all people created equal? Not as far as the virus is concerned, but that is not what the phrase implies. It means that all men and women, all people, have the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. What happens, though, when my right to Liberty threatens your right to Life? Some Americans are claiming that we have ended the quarantine too soon, that we are costing lives by doing so. Others argue that the virus was much less dangerous than experts predicted; that the quarantine should have been applied to the sick, not to the entire population equally without regard to health.
On this Independence Day, we Americans are trying to recover from a traumatic experience. For months, we have given up control over many aspects of our daily lives. Never in the history of this country, have so many people isolated themselves so thoroughly. We are still isolated. We wear masks to keep from infecting each other. We can’t smile at each other. It is difficult to breath and talk through the masks. We don’t touch.
We are beginning to realize that human contact is an integral part of Liberty and Happiness. Life isn’t the same without it.
You can read the Declaration of Independence at this link:
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