After 233 years, declaration remains relevant

Posted: Friday, July 03, 2009

"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, -- 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."

These words, from our Declaration of Independence, are powerful indeed. This weekend, we celebrate Independence Day, but we hope that people continue to think about the ideas behind these words. In that paragraph is the foundation not just of our own form of government, but, to this day, the inspiration for democratic movements around the globe.

While we watch people in Iraq begin to take responsibility for their own governance, and we see people in Iran protest an oppressive regime, we should also take a moment to think critically of our own government, from local service area boards and city councils all the way to the highest level of the federal government. After all, with the rights we consider inalienable come a great deal of responsibility to participate in our government -- the consent of the governed.

That all men are created equal is supposed to be self-evident; do we live by those words, and treat all people with the same dignity and respect we feel we deserve?

The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable -- incapable of being surrendered or transferred. Have we done enough to ensure that everyone, from all walks of life and all social and economic backgrounds, has those rights secured?

We proclaim the right of the people to alter or abolish a government when it no longer serves our best interest, and in fact, we have begun a debate on just that issue as it pertains to our borough assembly and mayor, and whether altering our current system would better serve our needs. It is a debate rooted in the beliefs we as a country hold dear.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. More than 200 years later, the ideas expressed in the document are relevant in our everyday lives.

We hope everyone enjoys this weekend's festivities, but we also encourage everyone to take a moment and think about the legacy of our nation's independence, and challenge every citizen to live up to the ideals expressed in our founding document.

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