THE BIRTHDAY OF A NATION
July 4, 2011
On the Fourth of July we celebrate the birthday of ourexceptional nation. It was in June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle, weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from the Royal British Empire. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly all states but, New York voted in favor of the declaration that day; New York abstained because they were awaiting approval from their legislation. A few days later the New Yorkers received approval and changed their vote.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." This passage is from one of the greatest documents of all time in American history...the Declaration of Independence. In our modern form of republican democracy we hold certain truths to guide the ship of state. Some such truths would be Thomas Jefferson's values of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson's ideas were great and expansive but not necessarily totally original. He drew many of these ideas from the English Scholar, John Locke.
It was Locke's philosophical belief in a democratic constitution, which served as the basis for the American Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. Jefferson and our forefathers, who shaped our system of government were students of John Locke, and when drafting the documents of state, relied on him for guidance. Our forefathers not only followed Locke, but also identified with his brand of thinking. Locke in many ways inspired the intellectual development of our colonial government, which has lasted peacefully for well over these many years.
Locke originally mentioned three rights of man, Life, Liberty and Property. According to Locke, men are born into a "state of nature" where perpetual war takes place. Men enjoyed total autonomy in that state. Locke advocated entering a "Social Contract" whereby men would agree to concede some of their autonomy to gain protection from each other. This "Social Contract" is the document, which delegates the duties of the state to man, and man's duties to the state. It defines the relationship between man and his government. This contract ends the state of nature and allows for representative democracy and a fair and impartial judge to hear and resolve all disputes.
Locke also discusses the labor of man as something of his own. From this concept comes the basis of "property." Property as defined by Locke is all that a man can produce with his labor. The bounty of that labor belongs to him and no other individual. Men entered the above stated "Social Contract" to protect their property from the exploitation and pillage of rouge men and thieves. And if the thief was larger than you in a state of nature, your property became that of the thief. So then men created a state to protect themselves and their property from each other, under such a system property is protected and autonomy is preserved with only few limitations. And thus the social contract is fulfilled and men are safe, secure and then can truly enjoy the bounty of "Life, Liberty and Property."
We would claim that there are many states in the world, and those states who know John Locke are the healthiest in liberty for free people. And those who do not know Locke's principles are some of the most oppressed. In its day such philosophical principles were attacked as "extreme" and now all people of the free world thrive in liberty from the ideas that John Locke articulated some 300 years ago. On this Fourth of July we again celebrate the birthday of a nation. And that is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.
(Kevin Wysocki from Washington, D.C. contributed to the piece.)