“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.”
Those words are from the United States’ Declaration of Independence and most of us know that last phrase, but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? Both “Life” and “the pursuit of Happiness” are difficult to accurately define, which is why the Bill of Rights was created. I think our Founding Fathers wrote it that way intentionally, because how else can you pinpoint basic human rights? Some of it needed to be left to interpretation because they knew times would change. Life for our citizens would change so it would have been impossible to be specific and all-inclusive for future generations.
Even the phrase “all men are created equal” has had a fluid definition. At first, it meant “all white men,” but through societal changes, it means almost everyone now.
But Liberty is different. To me, it means freedom from government control. I believe our Fathers would agree. They envisioned a country that would support it’s people, not control or restrict them. My best friend defines Liberty as, “allowing people to do things that you don’t agree with.” In essence- the freedom of choice.
The recently renewed gun control debate has weighed heavily on my mind. On the one hand, it makes sense to ban large magazines and assault rifles because, in theory, it would protect our citizens from devastating mass-shootings. However, that line of thinking is motivated by fear and we cannot allow our minds to fall into that trap.
Gun control, gay marriage, marijuana… it’s all about the same thing: basic human rights. One side tells us we can’t and the other fights for the right to say we can. In my mind, each of these arguments is settled easily: Every person has the right to do whatever they want with their lives. We have the right to take poisonous drugs. We have the right to end our own life. We have the right to amass a shed full of weapons.
However, our rights stop when we harm others. It’s okay to have an arsenal, as long you don’t shoot anyone. It’s okay to shoot up heroin, as long as the needle is in your vein. When your desires negatively impact others, there should be consequences but there should not be consequences to “harming” ourselves. We have the right to make that choice.
The tricky thing about this subject is that both of our major political parties are looking to regulate our liberties. Most of our politicians in office right now want to restrict our rights according to their personal beliefs. I want it to be crystal clear: This is wrong. As a country, we need to move away from those constraining thoughts. We need to believe in Liberty again.
Enter Libertarians, what I like to call the “common sense” party. They believe in personal rights and responsibilities. Their slogan says it all: “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom.” This is the time for us to say that we’ve had enough of the government infringing upon our liberties. This is our chance to manifest change in our country. “It can’t/won’t happen” is just an excuse not to try.
“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.”