What truths do we hold … “to be self-evident” ?
By W J Anthony
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence brilliantly describes the unalienable Rights that our Creator has given to each of us, to use during our life on planet Earth. Once we are born, we are involved with other people, starting with our parents, if we are fortunate, and possibly with brothers and sisters.
A process of learning begins, when we take our first breath, hear our first sounds, open our eyes for the first time and begin to wonder what this adventure of life outside the womb is all about. The gift of a mother is immeasurable and the love of a mother opens the door to encourage us to understand what our role might be in the near hours of our future. As each today becomes a yesterday, our judgments shape our journey and behavior in life with beliefs that we trust.
Our first crossroad with wonders begins with understanding our mother’s language, as she carefully opens for us a roadway to an infinity of information that quietly waits to serve what we choose to learn in our vocation on Earth.
As we discover the rules of life, we discover the puzzles that challenge our importance with consequences that await our decisions, one at a time.
The words of the Declaration are profound and require an effort on our part to discover and understand what their meanings might be. The unalienable Rights include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Four of the words used to express the Rights, contain meanings that need to be explained. ‘Life’; what does that mean? Likewise, what does ‘Liberty’ mean? What does the word ’pursuit’ mean, and what is meant by the word ‘Happiness’?
Life takes place during our moment-by-moment existence in a sequence of locations, wherever we might be on Earth. Liberty involves our willingness to participate in the busy-ness of the hives of activity that hum with efforts of thousands of people who collaborate in a web of processes that produce or distribute the millions of goods and services which humanity is accustomed to expect and use for the survival of its livelihood.
At the end of each week and at the beginning of each holiday, we find the word ‘pursuit’ to be appropriate, as we see thousands of employees of metropolitan cities join the flow of traffic to begin their journeys of temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of their homes and jobs in the urban areas of metropolitan America, to arrive at the locations that enshrine their acquaintances or family origins and remain in their memories of childhood and adolescent satisfaction. That pursuit testifies to the truth, that we humans depend on each other, whether we know or admit it or not.
In our heart of hearts, this repeated exodus and return shows that we know it to be true, that life is more than just breathing and eating. Life depends on many processes that take place in the hive of civilization. Life also needs our personal willingness to participate as a contributing member of humanity in one or several levels of participation that we may consider to be – governments. Such governments are established to secure our unalienable Rights.
To accomplish those Rights, the organization of the hustle and bustle of the powers of production and distribution of goods and services is necessary, and the hive of human industry hums best when the efforts of humanity are consistently pursuing appropriate means to obtain personal happiness for each of its members – according to their abilities.
Happiness of a person depends on a safe environment in which each person can discover the dimensions of one’s self. The process of self-discovery needs opportunities to compare oneself with the examples of mistakes and successes of other people who found the values that helped to change their personal weaknesses into the strengths that create and fulfill the happiness of appropriate satisfaction.
Our life and happiness depends on our Government that derives its just powers from the consent of we, our people, and uses its powers to organize opportunities for we, the people to use our appropriate powers to produce or distribute some of the goods and services that we, the people need to fulfill our pursuit of happiness.
Challenges come into each of our lives; some as surprises, others as consequences of what we experience. At some time or other, each of us possibly finds our self, ready to ask, “Why was I born? What is the purpose for which I was created?” The answer may be very complex, if we consider the vast dimensions of the world into which we were born. At some point, our questioning mind may choose to answer with, “God made us.” Then our belief mind may recall what we heard from a philosopher, scientist, or what one or many preachers might describe as the nature of creation.
A most memorable explanation personally came to my mind many years ago, as a five year old first grade public school student, sitting in on the first day of a Saturday morning religion catechism class, when I was asked by the teacher to read out loud the first question and then continue to also read the answer.
“Who made me?”
“God made me.”
The teacher then asked another youngster to read the next question and then also read the answer.
“Why did God make me?”
“God made me to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him in the next world.”
Those two questions and answers clicked in my mind, as if they would satisfy my every wonder then and thereafter, whether it be in my pursuit for education, or in my search to find my vocation in life, or learning to use my years of retirement before my life on Earth is finished.
Those two questions and answers helped me to understand that my weaknesses and strengths guide me to know how I should construct my identity to serve the purpose for which my Creator endowed me with those “certain unalienable Rights” and to remember that the same Creator also endowed every other person in this world, with those same “certain unalienable Rights”.
Could an updated catechism include the first two sentences of the second paragraph of the Declaration of independence?