Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July

“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, …”  - from the Declaration of Independence


Do you think the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or NKorean governments live by these words and concepts?  Not even close.

Some readers wonder why we should care whether China, for example, takes over the South and East China Seas or whether Russia takes over Crimea and Ukraine.  We can come up with reasons such as ensuring the safe passage of international shipping or some such but, ultimately, it comes down to our fundamental beliefs.  Unlike any other country in the world, we believe that our fundamental rights are granted by God, not governments, and that everyone, not just Americans, are entitled to these same unalienable rights.  We should care that most of the world lives in a reality far different from the concepts of our Declaration and in governments that do not govern with the consent of the governed.  If we truly believe these words then it is our responsibility, ultimately, to secure these rights for all people, in whatever country.  That is why we should care.

Sometimes we need a reminder about certain fundamentals in our lives.  Sometimes we also need a reminder that God is the source of our fundamental rights and our strength.


A happy and reflective Independence Day to all of you.

12 comments:

  1. Happy treason day 😉

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    1. You could always join us. We can add another state!

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  2. And a happy Independence Day to you, ComNavOps! Thank you for your work here.

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    1. Thank you. It is my pleasure and my honor to produce this blog and I thank you for reading!

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  3. All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. Bless you CNO and go go go! LTC KC

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  4. CNOPs: while I share your admiration for the founding principles of the US, I do wonder if you really believe that "certain unalienable Rights … Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" were absent from all non-USian states before US independence, or are absent from them now.
    Likewise, if you really believe that the concept of governments "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" is currently restricted to the US?
    As for the power of the Government being derived from God: in England in the 17th century there were some fairly powerful arguments against that, one of the sharpest being directed to the neck of Charles I.

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    1. By all means, I'd love to hear what other countries have similar principles in their foundational documents and beliefs.

      Neither I nor the Declaration say that the power of government is derived from God. Instead, rights are derived from God and it is the job of government to secure those rights for the people. There's a world of difference which you failed to grasp, there!

      Reread the excerpt from the Declaration and consider it carefully.

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    2. CNOps, I like your distinction between rights being given by God, but not the powers of the Government. Up to a point, anyway. Charles I also believed that the rights of his people had been given by God, including the right of the people to obey him; and that his Government's powers, also given by God, included the determination of his people's rights. Gets complicated, doesn't it?

      As for principles in foundation documents, try Magna Carta, clauses XXXIX and XL of the 1215 statute:
      No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.
      We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.

      I reckon that took care of life and liberty. The pursuit of happiness seems to be a Jeffersonian rewriting of concepts familiar to English common law, more obviously concerned with property (as per Magna Carta).

      You may very rightly object that "free men" in 1215 covered only a subset of Englishmen; true, but by the 17th century if not much earlier it covered all of them. Come to that, in the 18th and early 19th centuries the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were explicitly denied to a large subset of the inhabitants of the late revolted Colonies.

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    3. "Gets complicated, doesn't it?"

      No, it really doesn't. My English history isn't what it could be so forgive me and correct me if I'm wrong here but England had no foundational document expressing their beliefs. Their beliefs were whatever a single man (the king) deemed them to be. By contrast, the US has foundational documents which establish our core beliefs and the form of the resulting government as well as the right of the people to overthrow and abolish that government if it ceases to serve the people.

      The Magna Carta is more of a business agreement between dissatisfied nobles/landowners and the king of the time (a few rights in exchange for taxes - again, my knowledge is not what it could be) and has been revoked and reissued multiple times. It is not an expression of core, foundational rights granted by God and inherent to all men. If it were, it could never be revoked.

      This is not a contest between US and British documents. Instead, I'm pointing out that no country but the US views our fundamental rights as being granted by God. This belief is a major part of what makes America strong. There is nothing wrong with the Magna Carta but it completely fails to rise to the level of God-given core rights that US documents do.

      I really do not want this to become a contest. I'm simply pointing out, on this special day, the foundational beliefs that we cherish and that make us what we are.

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  5. "Do you think the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or NKorean governments live by these words and concepts [expressed in the Declaration of Independence]?"

    Well...I think I've grown much too cynical in my old age because I found myself wondering after reading your post if our own government lives "by these words and concepts" and found myself concluding that, no ... no ... it doesn't.

    And, likewise, when you asked why (or whether?) we should be concerned with China's moves in the South China Sea or Russia's in Crimea or Ukraine, I found myself wondering if that same thought holds true for Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Somolia, Vietnam, or any of the many other countries we somehow decided were in our national security interest ... and then I thought of the words of John Adams, who said long, long ago ... "America does not go searching abroad for monsters to destroy." Well ... I guess we do ... but, really, should we???

    Perhaps, we should re-read George Washington's Farewell Address and follow that up with Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" and recommend our government do the same. Our foreign policy might look completely different ... just a thought.

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    1. You're missing the key point in this. We may not be perfect but try to live up to our ideals and our ideals are worlds better than anyone elses. Also, sooner or later, we recognize, admit, and attempt to correct our mistakes. Again, few other countries do so.

      It's easy to highlight all the mistakes but try to objectively recognize the overwhelming good that America does. Whether it's winning world wars, safeguarding freedom around the world, responding overwhelmingly to humanitarian crises, donating billions of dollars to all manner of charities, establishing world standards in healthcare, leading the world in pollution control, taking the lead in feeding the world, or any of thousands of other examples, the US is the hope of the world and sets an example for all to follow. Yes, we fail but, unique in the world, we correct ourselves.

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  6. Thanks


    They're good words.
    I always liked the concept of self evident truths.

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