Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

July 4th marks the anniversary of the birth of this nation. On that day, the Declaration of Independence was signed by a cadre of men, who wrote the words ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ That declaration was a living promise to future generations of certain fundamental, inalienable rights such as the right to privacy.

On this fourth of July let us never forget that the rights we have secured were won by the hard fought efforts of generations of tireless activists and that the Constitution of the United States is a living document, shaped and formed by the collective participation of millions of people in a constant dialogue.

Our country is not perfect. Far from it, our history is one of terrible oppression and thoughtless, inconsiderate discrimination. Too many a man has been sent unnecessarily to die in war. Too many died without freedom, without rights. The stain of our neglect and terror scars the Constitution and the legers of history.

In spite of this truth, the human spirit has prevailed more often than not in this country and people have continued to believe in the fundamental goodness of the national project we call our Constitution. That belief in the security and equality of the individual and the guarantee of rights is perhaps the greatest contributor to the slow victory of justice in America.

That guarantee of our rights ensures that no man or woman, no matter how powerful and influential, is permitted to permanently or decisively interfere with the fundamental rights and freedoms of any other. These are the rights we celebrate on Independence Day and the freedoms that have been won in the generations since our nation's birth.

These victories include the extension of the right to vote and the rights of citizenship to all members of our society. The articulation of individual rights and freedoms is the fruit of their efforts. These freedoms offer proof that our Constitution is a living document and that the will of the people can be expressed in the language of the nation, articulated as law and common practice.

These freedoms, which we hold so dear, were brought to realization through the spirit of individual liberty and collective responsibility. Through an acknowledgement of the humanity of each person, the fundamental value of humankind is acknowledged. By recognizing this value in the individual we have crafted a body of law to protect the rights of everyone.

The threats to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and our fundamental rights and liberties is always present, both from without and from within. On this day of celebration of collective freedom, let us never hand over our rights and responsibilities to any executive or any legislator who will seek to compromise those rights in the name of security.

The generations before us have worked too hard and labored too long to hand over the right to privacy and the responsibility of the national defense to rogue administrators and legislators who would betray our trust as a country. We must ensure that the freedoms and rights that have been secured for us remain so for future generations.

So on this Independence Day let us remember that the articulation of rights does not secure those rights. Only a vigilant citizenry can ensure the security of those rights guaranteed on paper. Our Constitution is a living document, which is given meaning through our participation. Through our direct engagement in the experiment of democracy we truly give meaning to the freedoms we celebrate.

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