The holiday we observe this week celebrates ideals enshrined in a document signed 242 years ago which continue to guide our government and society. These ideals are ingrained in the soul of America, and despite trying times, they remain our guiding principle.
It may seem that the self-evident truths espoused in the Declaration of Independence – that “all men are created equal” and are endowed with “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – are not so evident to some in the current administration. The Declaration makes no mention of these unalienable rights being reserved only to certain people, people who live in the United States, for instance, or people who look like and share the religion, ancestry and political views of the Founding Fathers. The Declaration refers to “all men,” meaning, as generally understood at the time, everyone – men, women, children; all people.
And yet those seeking a better life in our country are treated like criminals, their children ripped from their arms and thrown in detention. We have a leader who clearly does not believe all men are created equally, who readily belittles those he disagrees with and disparages many of his fellow citizens rather than respecting their dissenting views. The shooting at a Maryland newspaper last week may not be the result of the president labeling the press the “enemy of the people,” but is it surprising that the incident occurred in an atmosphere created by a man who has no compunction about bullying and lying to boost his own ego? If there is a crisis in civility, as many claimed last week after members of the administration were confronted in public, look no further than the man in the oval office.
These are trying times, yet the ideals by which the Founders attempted to create a new society are still honored by many of the institutions that govern our land, if not the people leading them. And there are many intent on making their voices heard in the face of injustice and dissembling (the creation of an immigration and border “crisis” by the administration's own policies), as last weekend's protests showed. Our government, our society, our country are strong precisely because we still believe that all men are created equal, and not, as some in the administration seem to be believe, some are more equal than others.