I have serious objections to lines in many American “holy documents”. You know, lines like these:
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.
I fail to see how any “truths” are “self-evident.”
“All men are created equal.”
Putting aside “men” and the “implied” idea of “landed gentry,” no one is created equal. We should have a right to “equity,” i.e., “equal rights.” Sloppy language.
“Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Really? First, there’s the assumption of a creator. Not everyone buys into that idea.
And the rights: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Are we entitled to life? Not to get into politics or offer my personal opinion (that’s “opinion,” not “truth”), what about abortion? We’re arguing that right now and emotions run high.
Are we entitled to liberty? What does that mean? Most of us would argue that no one has unalloyed liberty. Most of us willingly give up some liberty in order to gain a balance. If one person has “complete” liberty, odds are good that others are impacted. We agree to driving rules on the roads, for example. We don’t allow anyone to drive on the wrong side of the road and present risks to others. That’s about the most neutral example I can think of at the moment.
Are we entitled to pursue happiness? I don’t know about that, either. This assumption has led people to assume that the goal is happiness. And they think they’ve failed if they’re not happy. But happiness is fleeting and no one can be “happy” all the time. Perhaps this is more sloppy language. Perhaps people have the right to pursue contentment. Perhaps, instead, they should have the right to pursue “basic needs,” food for the table, a roof over their heads. Perhaps even education (although that may be pushing it).
In case you think that’s a low bar, I suggest it’s not. Much of the world’s population doesn’t have its basic needs met. Is that right? No, but instead of pursuing happiness, maybe we should focus on pursuing equity (yes, equity, let’s be clear) for the world’s population and stop focusing on our “happiness,” or feeling guilty if we’re not “happy” all the time. We’ve been misled by our forefathers, I fear. Let’s wake up and get real.