Does democracy have an expiration date?
“Conflict is inevitable; combat is optional,” said author Max Lucado. It’s apparent in light of the many conflicts across our nation recently, that our country is perhaps more divided than ever. We fight for our own rights and beliefs, but do not hesitate to step on the toes of our brothers and sisters to get what we believe is rightfully ours. “Our way, but not yours.” I’m not certain where the line of equality really lies and I am no longer as confident as I once was in our government to discern that truth. It makes me wonder, does democracy have an expiration date?
What I do know is this. Monday we will celebrate our independence. Independence of the colonies from a king that was making decisions for the people, but without consideration of the people. Without consideration that those colonies had different needs; without consideration that many had left to escape religious persecution, to establish a fresh start. What worked for some did not necessarily work for the whole.
“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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
While we were still colonies, 240 years ago, leaders were stepping up to speak against a king who refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. The list of transgressions against the colonies continued: He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciar y powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
This is an excerpt from OUR Declaration of Independence. I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I read it, in its entirety. It reads a little like a history lesson, but you know what they say, history does repeat itself.
This weekend is a fitting and apt time to reflect on our nation and how we’ve arrived at this conclusion. Believe in what you will. Stand firm for your beliefs. If you are willing to believe in something, you should be willing to back it up. But not at the expense of forgetting that those around you have the same rights as you. “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” We have the ability to act unitedly and equitably. Celebrate. Reflect. Respect. And go with grace.