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Have Americans Moved on from the Ideals of the Declaration of Independence?

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Blood, sweat, and tears were put into the making of this country. Numerous people fought for a common goal- an independent nation founded for the true freedom of man. Is man really free, though? The Declaration of Independence not only helped birth this nation, but it also outlined what this country would stand for. However, America has moved away from the original dream of a free nation.

In the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, the chief truth of the United States is listed. It states as follows: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights…[including] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Throughout history, there have been cases where people used these very words to justify their position in their movement, such as the women’s rights movement and the civil rights movement. It was a struggle, but they won their cases. Surely after so many examples of what the U.S. supports , there would be less debate over newer issues that infringe upon these basic rights. Although thirty-three states have legalized gay marriage, seventeen still have a ban placed upon same sex marriage. The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right, and if two people wish to pursue happiness together, then they should be given that right. The Declaration of Independence was not written, and America was not born, to suppress its people but rather to give a voice to those who did not have one.

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Another idea presented in the Declaration of Independence is government. The government’s job is to protect the rights of the people which is why it says, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Where then is the government when its people are crying out? In the Zimmerman Trial, George Zimmerman was declared not guilty on all counts of the murder of Trayvon Martin due to Florida’s stand your ground law and lack of evidence. Zimmerman got out of his car and fatally shot young Trayvon Martin after being instructed to stay in his car. He said that he shot in self -defense. There were countless debates and much public outcry over this hearing. One man’s rights were protected but not the others. There were obvious racial undertones in the case which is why it caused so much discord among the nation. In his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King stated that “one hundred years later, the negro is still not free.” That was in 1963. It has been fifty- one years since that speech was delivered, but is the negro really free? And if the black man is not free, then are we free? In this nation, all our lives are tied together. If we cannot find peace and unity, then we will fall apart. The Declaration of Independence is supposed to protect people and their rights, but we first must stand together like the creators of that document once did when they stood for a common issue- their freedom from Britain. We now need to rediscover this unity and unite, so that the rights of all men are protected and we do not have another Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown.

The government seems to have little to say on either issue. All they call for is peace. Americans can write their tweets and facebook posts or have their protests as long as there is peace. But as the colonists discovered, peace can only last so long. America has moved from the ideals outlined in the Declaration of Independence and it is time to go back. Perhaps progress has blinded us and we lost sight of the foundation of our country. It is not too late to change.


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