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The Meaning Rings True: An Analysis Of Text Within The Declaration Of Independence And Its Relationship To Current Events

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The American Revolution was a demanding period in United States history. Our country's origins and beliefs are rooted deep within the words of the Declaration of Independence. This historic statement documented the difficulties that our budding nation had endured and the idealism associated with Jefferson's views of the new country. The words contained within the writings have rung true throughout many periods in our recent history.

All Men are Created Equal

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. (qtd. in Wikipedia "I Have a Dream")

These words were spoken by Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. during another turbulent time in our country's history. A time when African Americans and other minorities called into question the validity of the belief envisioned in the United States 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." (qtd. In McMichael 511)

In 1950's America, equality of man was far from a reality, and the pursuit of happiness by minority groups was halted due to racial discrimination, forcible segregation and denial of basic rights. Due to the actions and words of civil rights activists, racial barriers began to erode.

Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education, contributed to the growing force behind the movement to abolish public and private acts of racial discrimination. As the era evolved from the conservative 50's into the "free" times of the 1960's, awareness grew, and social and political fervor arose to fight against these offenses, resulting in the modern civil rights movement.

The call for social equality, paired with the realization that the majority of the nation's poorest citizens were African-American, left our government with little choice but to act. The result of the action was The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included regulations to outlaw intolerance based not just on race, but also on ethnicity, religion and gender. This time in history was spent pursuing Thomas Jefferson's words that visualized a country where all men were truly created equal.

It is the Right of the People Institute New Government

Equality and unalienable rights were also in question for the Iraqi people tormented under the rule of Saddam Hussein. As president, Saddam ran a repressive, undemocratic and authoritarian government that held its reign of terror by suppressing movements that it deemed threatening, particularly those of ethnic or religious groups that sought independence or autonomy. Stories of torture, murder and heinous crimes against humanity plague the chronicle of Hussein's rule over Iraq.

After decades of his tyrannical administration, the United States government finally stepped in to remove him from power and initiate a more democratic form of government. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or 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." (qtd. In McMichael 511) This seems to be the current declared reason for the Iraqi war: the right of the people to abolish the destructive government and lay foundation for one that would keep in its essence the irrefutable rights of each citizen.

Although the motives behind the origination of Operation Enduring Freedom are questionable, with beliefs that the actual purpose was related to oil rights or distraction from the failed attempts to destroy Al Qaeda and Osama Bi Laden rather than the threat of nuclear weaponry, the ongoing U.S. governmental reasoning for the war lies rooted within the words of the Declaration of Independence. They have played on the idealistic belief that it is the people's duty to remove a government it sees as a threat to its citizens and replace it with a more humane form of administration. In this case, however, it seems that the idealism has been warped from the original intention of the people's right to overthrow their own government to one where the United States maintains the right to overthrow any government it sees as destructive.

It is Their Duty to Throw off Such Government

Perhaps the people of Zimbabwe should consider Jefferson's writing that declared "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw

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