Larry Arnn

When in the course of human events [meaning any time, not just 1776, and not just today] it becomes necessary for one people [meaning any people, not just our own] to dissolve the political bands that have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Is this not remarkable to read in an age dominated by relativism and multiculturalism? We may think today that morality changes with the individual, right and wrong different in one nation than in another, but our fathers did not think that. They thought rather than our rights are written “as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of Divinity itself” (Alexander Hamilton).

Look about the world today and you will see that many powerful nations proclaim precisely the opposite of the Declaration of Independence. The doctrine of China, official and lately reiterated, is that the suppression of religion and free speech by the privileged and the powerful is the only proper form of “democracy”. When the Russian government cooks elections, arrests candidates, expropriates the property of it opponents, it sneers that it acts for the motherland. If in these countries the people are allowed to work and to save for their families, it is because the interest of the state justifies it. If that interest changes, then their rights are forfeit. Notice the class politics of the current presidential race: does this idea not have a foothold here, too?

We might remember then, this Fourth of July, that our nation may not be perfect, but it can make a claim available to no other: in the name of the rights of all, it was built from the first to belong to its people and not to their rulers.

It is not given to any nation to be guaranteed preeminence of power; certainly we did not have it at our beginning, and we may not have it in future. Never mind: if we cling to the principles that brought us to life, we will use whatever power we have for good. If others nations do that, we can live with them in peace and celebrate their strength as much as they. If they do not, then we should remember the resolution of our fathers before a certain despotic King.

The Declaration, you see, remains “the last, best hope of mankind on earth.”

Larry Arnn

Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College.
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