declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence, together with other documents such as the American Constitution, is among the documents that express what it means to be American. The Declaration of Independence articulates three principal values, namely liberty, freedom, as well as the pursuit of happiness. Most importantly, the Declaration enunciates that all men are created equal and, therefore, all legitimate governments must be founded on the consent of the subjects and must secure the aforementioned values.
The liberties guaranteed under the Declaration include the right to life, as well as the right to own property, among others. These are not merely wishes or desires but are affirmed liberties intrinsic to human nature and endowed by the creator. These rights go beyond the capability of any government spifflicate them. Therefore, the natural or inherent rights bring into being legitimate governments and abnegate the legitimacy of governments justified on grounds such as race, heredity, wealth, class, or religion.
Equality is another value enunciated in the Declaration. The American government is essentially based on the principal of equality. However, it should be emphasized that this precedence does not translate to equality of skill, character, or strength; nor does it call for an equality of conditions or class within the society. Irrespective of the differences, there exists an elemental human identity – that no individual has a manifest destiny to be ruled or rule others. In this sense, equality demands that any legitimate government be based on the approval of the governed.
Concerning the pursuit of happiness, the Declaration demands that any legitimately instituted government safeguards “certain unalienable rights,” which include the right of individuals to pursue happiness. Nevertheless, it should be apparent that happiness is not merely about self-gratification of dumbstruck pleasure but human flourishing, or living one’s life to its full potential.
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