“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.”
Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. They are not the only unalienable rights endowed by our Creator (notice the phrase “among these”), but according to the founding fathers of the United States of America, they are among rights that are given by God. As long as I never destroy another person’s rights to the same, my unalienable rights cannot be justly taken away from me by other men. And although these rights are endowed by my creator, there are no guarantees of a positive outcome in my pursuit of happiness.
I have the right to life. That gift to me from God allowed me to be born. And by God’s mercy, I survived heart surgery as a young boy. And by God’s grace and patience and love, I still live and breathe today.
But I don’t have a guarantee that my life and breath shall continue even as long as it takes to write this blog post. How many breaths do I have left? One? Five? Ten thousand? Three years worth? There is no guarantee. God gave me my very first breath, and He will choose when I take my last.
I have the right to liberty. That is, I have the right of agency and choice. I have the right to think what I wish. I have the right to choose my course of action. I have the right to then act on those decisions. In other words, I can choose what I do during every breath that I am afforded. I can do good; I can do evil. The liberty, or freedom to choose, is mine and mine alone.
Life is given. Liberty is promised. But I don’t have a guarantee that I won’t feel opposition in the decisions that I make in life. That is why I have the right to pursue happiness, and yet no right to expect that any particular outcome will be guaranteed.
Again, it’s my right to take a breath. My right to think and act according to the dictates of my own conscience. And my right to pursue happiness.
But . . .
I’m not guaranteed that I will have a house to live in.
I have no right to a job, or an education, or of a career of my choice.
I have no assurance that I’ll be wealthy or successful.
I have no promise of a meal, or clothing, or a roof over my head.
I have no right to expect that I will never experience sickness.
I have no claim on friends or family. In fact, I have no guarantee that any person will ever like me.
In short, all that I have and all that I am comes from God, and each of those things–a body, a life, a Savior, a family, friends–are all gifts.
Today, I am very grateful for those gifts. My thanks and appreciation go to the brave men, and to the brave women who surely supported those men, who pledged their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor that this country might be a land of liberty. May the angels of heaven bless their names forever.