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 shewn 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.
Our Founder’s understood a principle of governance called Natural Law. The expression is thrown around a lot these days so a basic understanding of the concept is necessary so that we know when someone uses the term incorrectly. The mere concept of Natural Law is, according to its proponents, instinctual in the individual. It is built into us.
Think about that for a minute. From the earliest philosophers who entertained this notion, they all agreed that Natural Law was a universal concept in all human life. To them, it is one thing that binds all human life regardless of skin color, race, ethnicity, etc. While early philosophers danced around the issue it was Cicero who stated from where this attribute of Natural Law originates. Cicero stated that it comes from God.
The argument is simple enough. If it exists in all and is common to all; if it occurs naturally from within then its source must originate from a higher authority than any mere mortal institution or form of Governance. If Natural Law is observed we experience order and justice, when Natural Law is abused we experience chaos, despotism and tyranny.
Now if man was a moral creature in all aspects, Natural law would be enough Certainly if we all embraced the universal notion of Natural Law, which would require respecting the same Natural Rights of others, we would need nothing more. Man, however, is also a fallen creature prone to perverting that which is Natural and turning it into something unnatural. Sometimes they will do this while maintaining their actions are totally moral.
If both Natural Law and Sin Nature are true than the internal struggle between Natural Law and Tyranny exists as a possibility in each of us as well. It should be something we can witness and prove through example. Just as empirical science must be proven, contrasting it to theories built upon speculation, Can we witness Natural Law and Sin Nature in daily life?
For the individual, an act of Tyranny is the belief that the Rights granted you through Natural Law apply only to you or to those you choose respect, but not to all. This than leads to the corrupted notion that your right to happiness can come at the expense of another. We can witness this internal struggle even in childhood. Consider children at play where one child sees another child’s possession, desires it and then claims the possession as their own. This is obviously an act of aggression that is seeking to ignore the Natural Rights of another for pure self-interest. The good parent intervenes and teaches the child a lesson in Natural Rights built on the concept of the right to property.
Let’s suppose the child who wants the possession of another child has parents who can afford less possessions. Does this change any aspect of the Natural law? Does that abolish the rights of the child who parents can afford to provide more? Do the parents have a right to intervene and force the more privileged child to surrender a portion of their possessions to the less privileged child? No. Absolutely not. The more privileged child has a right to the things that belong to him. The parents of the privileged child might seek to teach their child something of compassion and the gift of sharing but unless the child willfully decides to relinquish that which is rightfully his, the child’s Natural Rights are abused and the abusers are guilty of Tyranny. The freedom of will of the child is taken away if the parents force the child to relinquish his possessions as well as for the child to exemplify charity.
Some would define this as Social Justice. The question however is, how can it be defined as justice to provide for one through an act of Tyranny that forces loss for another? If justice is truly blind, she is blind to economic status as well as to matters of race, ethnicity and skin color.
Some might define this as being moral. Again, how can something declared moral take, by force, from one to provide for another? This is Immoral Tyranny cloaked as Morality but it is, in reality, a perversion of Natural Law and therefore unnatural…immoral.
The most immoral aspect is that it removes the ability of the more privileged child to commit the moral act of Charity, replacing it with the Tyranny of a theft of his possession.
Our Founders focused on three primary Natural Rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The Right to Life gives us the opportunity to make healthy or unhealthy choices. Any law which mandates an inability to make unhealthy choices is a law in violation of Natural Rights. You see, Natural rights must exist in the realm of free will. We must have the right to choose and that includes the right to choose a destructive lifestyle. The consequences of that choice is our responsibility not the governments. The only time the government should intervene is if we exert a force of Tyranny over others by forcing them to make choices in their life, whether those choices are healthy or unhealthy.
Liberty is the right of self-expression. It gives us the freedom to choose to embrace God or reject Him. It gives us the choice to follow specific courses of actions in our life and in the pursuit of that course of action, have the right to succeed if we make right choices or to fail if we make poor choices. Tyranny steps in when we try to force others to make the same choices. It enslaves us through the law to deny our own freedom to choose, even if we choose poorly.
The Pursuit of Happiness is clear enough, it allows us to pursue Happiness but does not guarantee the same result to all. Each individual will pursue the things that make them happy. Obtaining that happiness might be hindered by financial position but this, when left to Natural Law, creates an inner quest in us to obtain what is necessary to gain the means of getting those things which we feel provide us with contentment or happiness. When government intervenes and provides the means freely, the inner quest is corrupted by providing a shortcut to the goal through no pursuit of your own. In order to obtain this, government must take from one pursuit, to provide for another while removing the ability to to pursue from both individuals. As such, it corrupts that which is Natural turning it into something unnatural.
As our Founder’s began to explore these aspects of governance they saw, in Britain, a Tyranny to replace Natural Law with an unnatural corruption of the laws. They saw that the only course of actions was to remove themselves from a corruptible governance to something more in align with the Natural Rights of mankind. They saw this not only as their right, but as their moral obligation. It was a pursuit to restore the things to man granted to him by the hand of Divine Providence.
It was not something new or alien, it had been laid out many times before. For 15 years prior to the Declaration, the arguments, made against corrupt governance in the colonies from both within the colony or through exertion from the crown and Parliament, was framed around the Natural Rights of man.
It was around this context that 55 men would gather in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and begin the debates on the Constitution of the United States of America. How do you establish a strong enough government that would still respect the Rights of the States as well as the Natural Rights of the Individual? After 5 months they produced a document that is probably as close as we will ever get.
Over the years, just like the principle of Natural Law, the Constitution has been perverted by self-interested individuals, organizations and others through a rejection of the principles of Natural Law. Without it, the Constitution means nothing.