Impolite Company: The Real Meaning of Independence
Dock Line Magazine hopes that you had a lovely 4th of July! There is no more quintessential American Holiday, and we are rapidly approaching the 250th year anniversary of the birth of the greatest experiment in self-governance in human history. But beyond the hot dogs, parades, fireworks, and red, white and blue summer clothing, Independence has a deeper and broader meaning.
Independence Day, which just happens to be on the 4th of July, is much more than the United States breaking away from the Crown. The Independence that the Patriots and the Congress were speaking of is much broader, deeper, and meaningful. Today, our country is on the brink of tearing itself apart in many ways because we have rejected Natural Law and the true definition of Independence. I would like to take just a moment of your time to reflect on the deeper meaning of Liberty.
The Declaration starts with the Preamble, discussing “the Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God,” firmly planting in the reader’s mind the concept of Natural Law. This 2,500-year-old evolution of thought needed no explanation during the Founding. The next paragraph, which is undoubtedly the most famous and quoted, discusses the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal,” and that our Natural Rights are “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It goes on to say, “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This establishes the very purpose of government. Madison would later state in Federalist 51 that “if men were angels, there would be no need for government.”
Herein lies the wisdom of Natural Law. On one hand we know what is moral, virtuous, and correct… that is why they are called “rights.” On the other hand, we know that due to the fallen nature of man, we have a tendency to do wrong.
In fact, the evidence of this tendency takes up both the next and largest section of the Declaration: the grievances. It was these grievances that Great Britain had perpetrated against their own countrymen that led the colonists to declare political independence. Their Natural Rights were serially violated, and they sought to reclaim their Natural Independence as individuals.
I’ve seen several posts regarding Freedom, or Liberty, and how these things aren’t given, they are won, etc… But this is a misinformed position. Liberty is given, to every man, woman and child by God as a Natural Right.
We are individuals, as John Adams wrote into the Constitution of Massachusetts in 1780: “The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals; it is a social compact by which the whole people covenant with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good. It is the duty of the people, therefore, in framing a constitution of government, to provide for an equitable mode of making laws, as well as for an impartial interpretation and a faithful execution of them; that every man may, at all times, find his security in them.”
This is the Independence that we need to embrace – the Independence of the individual person, granted Rights by God, and as such should be due the respect as an equal. By embracing Natural Law once again, we can regain the United part of the United States.