On the Declaration of Independence: July 4th 1776
The declaration of independence is a document that is always referred to in American culture; it is a guarantee of rights. Although Jefferson may have wanted our rights to be written and documented he claims that they are "laws of nature and of nature's God" as in a form of a higher law, innately applicable to us. He claims that these are "truths" and are self evident. Self-evident to whom? Self evident is obvious and can have no other interpretation like a pen can only be a pen and it's the truth it holds, what you use a pen for might not be as self-explanatory. It seems that these laws are ultimate truths, when reasoning about life, in the eyes of Jefferson and others like him, but how about those who lack this absolute right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" because they're enslaved? These laws are natural to those whom can experience them and not really to all men. These words are being spoken to the king and 'free' people of Britain, and are not directed to those who are slaves. Also the word "pursuit" is used because no one can ensure happiness, but you can be promised an attempt to become happy.
It seems contradictory when he says "That all men are created equal," because that neglects those who aren't really equal. First, not all humans are men, and assuming women always come with the men of the society makes no valid sense. But the word "created" is one that brings us back to God. When reading this, I automatically thought of my religion and beliefs in Islam, which pretty much says that all of mankind, men and women, are created equal in the sight of God. Created is how you start but one can diverge from a point of equality. For religion, if one sins they divert and if one does good they advance. This word "created" gives a certain freedom to move up and down, because it is not equality between one another, but ultimately in with God. A person who is poor and works a 12 hour shift everyday versus a man who's rich because of his fathers inheritance, to each other there is an economic and class inequality, but to God regardless they are equal. The declaration further proves this by claiming that these rights are "endowed by their creator." These rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without the previous the latter would not occur. Without being alive and being free one cannot be happy. When born or created, one has the right to life the moment their souls is within their body, but liberty and the pursuit of happiness all depends are who you are born to. Who are your parents? If I was a slave of course I am born so my right to life is being used, but my right, or claim to a right, of liberty and pursuit of happiness cannot be guaranteed because they are subjective matters that are personally defined. No one can tell you that you're happy or you're free. The government tries to secure these rights, but when living with government, you need to give up some of your rights as well. In Hobbes' 'Leviathan' when we establish a government we transfer our fear of one another to the sovereign, who will protect us basically from one another. In our state of nature, without government, we were free to do anything, steal, rape, murder, but we give up these rights of nature so that we can live without the fear of being harmed. The sovereign is appointed by the people, but he is not bound to the contract. Meaning the sovereign can still act on his freedom, he can be a total dictator and create a totalitarian state like that of animal farm after the pigs came to power. But if the people believe that the government is not doing a good enough job they can over throw it and put someone else to transfer their fear to. In this case this declaration of independence doesn't guarantee what type of government will be established, just like the leviathan, it's up to the discretion of who is appointed ruler. But the people still have the right to impeach or overthrow the government.
The declaration talks about rights and a duty. The rights seem like underlying duties. Although you may not exercise a right for yourself, you must help others who want to exercise it themselves. For if the people are being deprived of their rights they have the duty to "throw off" the government and provide a new one. The declaration then lists reasons or justifications for the right to rebellion. These justifications serve to target the King of Britain and other monarchical systems, basically labeling them tyrants. And the declaration claims that a tyrant us "unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Near the end of the declaration it seems like the writer threatens Britain by saying "We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends." Although it is not attacking them obviously, I believe there is a threat beneath the words mentioned, because of the order in which they are placed, enemies before friends.
This declaration claims we have rights, but only to a number people, seemingly the elite white men of the colonies. It also binds people to it before their birth, although I am American born, I don't view the declaration as my authentic document citing my rights. It has claims to rights, but I guess I'd believe in a higher law. A written declaration created by men doesn't serve to legitimize my rights. Personally, because I am a Muslim, my rights can only be guaranteed by God, in the Quran God mentions our different rights, but people can only facilitate them. The declaration is only a means of movement towards the rights, of facilitating the rights, but a mere man cannot guarantee them because ultimately there is some form of higher law. And although America was significant because of the separation of church and state, they invoke in God's name, because people still held the authenticity of God and they wanted to inspire the people.