The Second Paragraph
By Jack Wilkinson, 2020 Chair MCRCC
In a conversation with my niece Easter Sunday last I told her that my political ideas and direction were centered on the second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence: “ 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….”
I have been a true believer and have preached that idea using that particular sentence most of my life. I take what it means as the foundation of our very Nation, the United States of America.
My dear niece, very politely asked me, just what does that mean, uncle Jack? What does it mean to me?
I must admit, I was more than momentarily stunned. After all, the whole nation was built on the idea of individual Liberty. The right to pursue your own happiness. That fact, that your life is just that! YOUR LIFE!!! Just how do I explain something so very basic I was asking myself?
It is when we are asked to explain that which we often take as gospel, and it is in fact our gospel, that we have to think about just what does that gospel mean and how do we impart that to others. And why, or even how, a person could grow up in this country and not understand that particular phrase?
In that moment of stunned reflection I wondered how anyone with any education at all could even ask that question. This is a woman with a four-year degree and going for advanced education.
She hates Trump and the way he talks. The words he uses. She likes his administration and what they are doing but does not like the man. How do I explain the basic tenets of Liberty, for that is just what that second paragraph is? I went on to explain that the Constitution was designed to limit government and to prevent government from interfering with those very basic rights.
But she again asked, what do they mean?
CHOICE, I said. You have the choice as to just what will make you happy.
When you leave the nest of pre adult support, what you then do with YOUR life is totally up to you.
What job you take or even get is influenced by the value you add to an employer’s bottom line. You are not guaranteed any job in our particular system. You get to choose.
You get to choose what and how you eat, limited only by your ability to afford either. Yes, you do have to sing for your supper.You leave the nest to a world open to you and your choices. By that time your upbringing and education will have given you the tools to decide what are good choices and what are bad choices. If you have not had a good upbringing or education you are still faced with and responsible for those choices.
Drinking and carousing are a lot of fun. However, they come with a price often far beyond the immediate cost you see and bear.
Choice. All of us are born with the right to exercise choice.
We owe all this to the sacrifices of many who went before us. In particular those who created that most famous of documents, The Declaration of Independence. Those men who fought and died to make sure that document lived on, deserve our undying gratitude. Those men, known as our Founding Fathers, who went on to spend five months in Independence Hall in Philadelphia creating our
Constitution to specifically limit government interference in our lives. Further ensuring those limits with the first ten amendments known at the Bill of Rights our freedom to make those choices. Those that died fighting and defeating the great military force of the English king. Those that died fighting for the 13th amendment. In WWl in Europe in 1917 and WWll in 1941. Many died so we can make our own choice. They deserve our gratitude and allegiance to their efforts.
Your life is decided by your choices.
That is exactly what that second paragraph[h means to you.