The Declaration at 220:
Those Old Words Still Ring True
by Dave Bealer
Copyright © 1996 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.
PHILADELPHIA, PA. (July 4, 1776) -- 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 are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed,...
So begins the single most important political document in human history.
There have been other such declarations made throughout history, and
many of them have led to wars of independence, successful or not. But
no other document has had the far reaching effects of the U.S. Declaration
18th Century Men With Timeless Ideas
The Declaration of Independence was written and signed by eighteenth century
men. White men of European origin - not a politically correct thing to be 220
years later. These same chauvinistic, meat-eating, slave-owning European men
pledged "their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor" to the cause of
forging a nation which became (and still is, despite popular mythology) the
financial, creative, technological, and cultural (gasp!) wonder of the world.
Americans are a restless people. This is only natural, since most of us
descend from immigrants. We are dreamers, explorers, and inventors. Americans
are responsible for most of the key inventions of the twentieth century: the
airplane, the computer, the transistor, the integrated circuit, the Lunar
Excursion Module, the Pet Rock - the list goes on and on.
Dare to Dream
Of all the qualities commonly attributed to Americans, "dreamer" is the
most important of all. In the late twentieth century "dreamer" has taken on
negative connotations of laziness and lack of productivity. The truth is that
Americans have always dreamed of ways to make things better for themselves
and their children, then gone on to turn those dreams into reality (or at
least a profit).
Those eighteenth century men who started the ball rolling were dreamers on
a classic scale, who wanted to live in a land where freedom was more than
just another word for nothing left to lose. Yes, many of those men were
slave owners. Some of them probably beat their wives, children and servants,
whether they deserved it or not. A few of them, no doubt, had other disgusting
personal habits which today would not bear discussion outside the confines of
a television talk show studio. Despite all these failings, the more astute
among them must have realized that they were taking the first step towards
emancipation, civil rights, and rap music.
Three of the most influential men of the past 220 years were American
dreamers. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
all had dreams they shared with the world as they went about changing
that world. These three great men are gone. But if they were writing this
today they would tell their fellow Americans (and fellow citizens of the
world) to work together in bringing about their own dreams. We cannot forget
the past, but we must learn to let go of the fear and hatred engendered by
past tragedies and injustices so that we can work together towards a better
225 and Beyond
The 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence
will occur on July 4, 2001, in the first year of the third millennium (*).
Various third world loonies will still be denouncing America as "The Great
Satan," "The Lesser Satan," and "Satan Lite." Some things never change.
The one thing we must all hope never changes is that Americans will go on
doing what they do best - being the loudest, rudest, and most effective bunch
of overachieving dreamers and visionaries on the planet. If not, don't worry.
The U.N. will set up a Quality Council to set things right.
Happy Birthday, America! And many happy returns!
(*) That's right. Do the math, all you weenies who think the millennium
starts 1/1/2000. When exactly was the year zero?
January 1, 2000 is simply the date when every computer on the planet
will drop dead from 2K disease. (Which is like Dutch Elm disease, only
Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who
works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the
largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront
townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he
assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor.
Dave can be reached via e-mail at:
Friction can be a drag sometimes.