Archive | July, 2015

In Pursuit of Happiness

4 Jul

first-american-us-flag-1777It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth year of blogging – and so I present my annual 4th of July installment.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, PA, adopted the Declaration of Independence that proclaimed the liberation of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its King. To King George III, it was an act of colonial rebellion, and to the Americans, it was a direct result of the Crown’s refusal to recognize their equal rights as British citizens.

There are many excellent texts – including Joseph Ellis’s American Creation and David McCullough’s 1776 – that detail the causes and conflicts of the American Revolution. But nothing summarizes this struggle better than the immortal lines from the document itself: “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.”

The American Revolution would last for five years and leave 50,000 American casualties (dead and wounded). Let me emphasize this: the first Americans fought and died for the independence and equality of all citizens. (Note: I realize these early rights were limited to white male landowners, but hey, let’s fight one revolution at a time).

However, it is troublesome that 239 years later we as a nation still expend tremendous time, money and resources to debate (right by individual right; and social group by social group) whether all our citizens are entitled to equal treatment under the law. Our founding brothers and sisters believed not only in a moral right to equality (endowed by their Creator), but in a social (Thomas Paine’s Common Sense) and economic (Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations) right to granting citizens freedom and equality. So in the midst of the barbeques, parades and fireworks, we should all take time to reflect upon what we are celebrating – independence and equality.

I intend elaborate on our burdensome legal (not justice) system in future posts, so for now I will wish you all a happy and safe 4th of July – you treasonous colonial ingrates.