The Day Before Thanksgiving: Are There Still Self Evident Truths and Unalienable Rights?
This richly diverse Nation reaffirms its reliance upon God as the source of its liberties.
This unique American holiday called Thanksgiving has a profoundly religious core. So too does the American experiment in ordered liberty. This richly diverse Nation reaffirms its reliance upon God as the source of its liberties.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - We are all ready to stop thinking about politics. I find myself grimacing every time I see or hear another purported analysis of what happened in the last Presidential election. I am ready for the celebration of Thanksgiving - and so is the United States of America.
Many households are already filled with the smells associated with the pies and side dishes which will accompany the Thanksgiving Feast. Last minute shopping for the celebration will bring neighbors to stores throughout the day and prompt early closure of many businesses.
There is something so very good about this day - and we all seem to know it intuitively. This richly diverse Nation reaffirms its reliance upon God as the source of its liberties. We stop to give thanks.
Though Thanksgiving is referred to as a secular holiday, it is most assuredly NOT a secularist Holiday. Secularism as an ideology seeks to exclude religious influence and the values informed by religious faith from our common life. That is profoundly at odds with the American idea.
This American holiday called Thanksgiving has a profoundly religious core. So too does the American experiment in ordered liberty.
The Declaration of Independence, the Birth Certificate of our Nation proclaimed: "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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men."
The words are still memorized by at least some of our schoolchildren and can bring a tear to the oldest American eye with little effort.
The principles the Declaration communicates have informed our history as a free people and inspired our neighbors in other parts of the world to stand up against all forms of tyranny. Our forebears were not declaring their independence from Divine Providence. Rather, they were trusting in the primacy of the Governance of God over their own lives and their noble undertaking.
They sought independence from a monarchy which had become tyrannical precisely because it had forgotten the implications of the primacy of Divine Providence. The principles set forth in that Declaration were a rallying cry which called forth extraordinary sacrifice from ordinary men and women.
They were rooted in something much greater than political expediency. That is why those principles became a measuring stick against which all governments of men would be measured in the future.
The founders of this Nation actually believed there were truths - objective truths- to be held and that those truths are self evident.
Those truths include the existence of unalienable rights which are given to all men and women by a Creator. Rights to Life and Liberty, including religious liberty, the first freedom. They believed that those truths and those rights can be discerned by all men and women because they are revealed by the Natural Law which is written on all human hearts and is a participation in God's eternal law.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration, Charles Carroll of Carrolton, cousin of the Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore, was the only Catholic signer. At the time of his signing it was illegal for Catholics to hold public office or to vote in Maryland. Yet, he still pledged with all of the signatories:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." He knew the importance of the vision of freedom, rights and liberty which that Declaration proclaimed in those three profoundly simple but supremely powerful words: "We Hold These Truths."
There are competing visions of the human person, human dignity, human rights, marriage, family and human freedom contending for the future of the American experiment. The very foundation of our freedom is at risk as a result of confusion over the very notion of human rights; what they are, who receives them and where they come from.
Human rights are goods of the human person. Therefore, there must be human persons to receive and exercise them.
The recognition of the preeminent Right to Life which is so clearly set forth in the words of this Declaration is now routinely undermined by the positive/civil law of the Nation which the Declaration helped to birth. How can a Nation which has enshrined the killing of innocent children in the womb in its positive law now claim that that it still recognizes the unalienable right to life?
Certainly all of the American founders would have agreed it is wrong to kill an innocent neighbor. How can we read Jefferson's words, "God who gave us life gave us liberty" and not see the evil of a jurisprudence which ...
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