Deriving Power from the Consent of the Governed
by April Friendly, Northside P.O.W.E.R. Leader
Happy Independence Day, all! As I enter the supermarket or listen to advertisements this Fourth of July week I am overwhelmed with the commercialization of the holiday. They are selling everything from red, white and blue cupcakes to “unbeatable” cars deals – this week only. I am directed and encouraged to show my love for the country by spending my money on frivolous products. I often observe such rhetoric and continue with business as usual, putting the spare ribs and baked beans in my shopping cart and rolling along. But this year I am compelled to pause and reflect upon my own relationship to declaring independence.
I would not classify myself as terribly patriotic. I have never worn a military uniform, nor do I wave a star spangled banner in front of my home. I even drive a Japanese car. I do, however, revere the notion that this country is the land of opportunity and a place of freedom for all.
Maybe I demonstrate naivety or idealism – I’m not exactly sure. Either way, I am clear I want to live in a society that works for everyone. And on the backdrop of an unforeseeable end to devastating unemployment, unmanageable debts and reckless corporate behavior, I’ve decided to get back to the basics, beginning with the historic document that has shaped this particular occasion. I haven’t doted over or studied the Declaration of Independence beyond what was necessary to pass middle school exams. And here I sit, intrigued by its legacy, interested to discover what is at the heart of the matter of this national day of celebration. The title, in and of itself, is bold and prolific and demands my attention. I get caught up in comprehending the first paragraphs, and the words move me.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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…”
What I understand is that the words we use create the world we live in. These particular words began to dictate our freedom, our power and what’s possible. It is written, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at the foundation of this nation and up to the people to regulate. Organizing power on these principles is the unalienable right of all people. And if we don’t organize power we can’t force our government to live up to its purpose as stated in the Declaration of Independence.
Friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, it is time we organize ourselves. It is time we reclaim our American dream. It is time we hold strong for and proclaim a new day for justice. A state of being where social and economic justice prevail for all. Where leadership rules with compassion and integrity. Where humanity is dignified and has the opportunity for quality life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where we are independent from oppression and freedom does ring for all. Now, here’s a commercial I’ll proudly promote.