Column: Only God can grant unalienable rights
The foundation of our country was established in the Declaration of Independence, and, later, in the Constitution that developed those principles. The first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration is essentially the DNA from which the rest of our government was built.
"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."
When we obtained our independence from England, which was a miracle in itself, many, including those in Washington, felt it was due in no small part to divine intervention. Indeed, George Washington's feelings on the matter are vividly expressed in his first inaugural address: "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."
Nor was Washington the only founder who felt that God favored our war for independence. James Madison wrote in Federalist 37, "It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."
Benjamin Franklin, in a speech to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, stated: "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men."
Nor were these beliefs only restricted to our founders. President Ronald Reagan once said, "America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under."
Yet we, as a nation, haven't always lived up to those words so eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence. When we haven't, it seems that we wind up paying an exorbitant price. Again, in his first inaugural address, Washington displayed a prescience when he said, "The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."
It would seem obvious that encoding slavery into the Constitution was the antithesis of "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Yet that is the stain on our history. If the founding of our country was miraculously assisted by divine intervention, then we paid for the continuation of slavery with divine retribution of the Civil War.
Any dispassionate reading of Lincoln's second inaugural address would come to the conclusion that Abraham Lincoln believed that the Civil War was God's punishment for allowing and continuing the practice of slavery.
Today, at a time when many secularists scoff at and ridicule believers for adherence to what they, the secularists and atheists, consider to be myths and fables, it would seem to be the appropriate time for those non-believers to address questions about our freedom. If our Creator didn't endow us with "certain unalienable rights," who did? If a higher being did not give us these rights, then how are they "unalienable"?
If these rights were given to us by other mortals, then are they not subject to whims of mere mortals? In that case, are not our rights built on a foundation of quicksand? In totalitarian regimes, no matter if they are fascist, communist or benevolent socialist, the elitists decide who is "equal" and what rights the people have. Those elitists seem to always have more equality and greater rights than the rest of the population.
Isn't it better to have unalienable rights endowed by a greater being? Isn't it both more logical and morally compelling to fight for unalienable rights given by a Creator? If our rights are stolen by some king or despot, wouldn't his argument be that he can give or take rights as he sees fit, due to his unique position? In such a case, wouldn't it be better to have divine intervention on our side?
Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, California, police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.