In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers wrote 1,342 words that explained how they thought about man, his rights and why they were leaving the British Crown. Ninety percent of the declaration spells out the grievances that were causing them to leave. Only 55 words are the essence of our government:
“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.”
Key points later elaborated upon in the Constitution are:
1. Man was created by a higher power and has rights that can’t be denied or taken away. Religion is thought to be important but separate from the government.
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2. Man has a right to life, liberty and his pursuit of happiness but, only as long has he doesn’t infringe upon others’ rights.
3. Governments can be created to define and secure these rights.
4. Our government derives powers from the consent of the governed.
Today there is a lot of discussion around religion and the belief in a higher power. However, as long as you are a moral person and believe that all men are created with equal rights, we have the basis for a successful government. Religion can help to make us moral, develop a successful family and live in peace with others. But religion should never be used to force its beliefs upon others nor their governments.
Government by consent of the governed is successful only when government is not allowed to have unlimited power. The governed must work together to define and limit government’s power.
Gerald E. Hayes