“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.” Declaration of Independence.
This week we celebrated our independence. The Declaration of Independence was a significant document explaining why continual oppression and injustice could not be tolerated as the Crown remained “deaf to the voice of justice.” History records the work of Franklin, Madison and Jefferson a little kindly as the document was strongly edited by the whole Congress before they unanimously agreed to its adoption on July 2, not July 4, but what history rightly records is the impact of the Declaration of Independence on America.
The famous sentence of equality and liberty that stem from a Creator for all people has profoundly influenced our legal and government systems. Lincoln drew heavily on the Declaration of Independence in his emancipation proclamation and support of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The 14th Amendment incorporated the Declaration’s concept of liberty and the assumption of equality and providing a voice of justice to the voiceless. Voting rights, civil rights and advances for all minorities and marginalized groups in America have been on the basis of the 14th Amendment and its liberty concept from Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence.
Today we have a unique opportunity to continue the great tradition of equality and justice for all. Let us stand for the poor and vulnerable who are in need of justice for all. Let’s provide equal access to our courts so justice is available for all, not just those with money. Let’s stand for the voiceless and not be “deaf to the voice of justice.”
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing America is how we will handle 11-12 million people living in the shadows. They have no voice. They live in fear. People like Maria whose story is told in the movie, The Stranger. Maria came to the US as a teenager fleeing life-threatening poverty and lack of opportunity in Mexico. She found a back-breaking job of picking onions, making $200 a week. She married, had children and then her husband became abusive and threatened to kill her. Why do we feel she does not have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Thankfully a local church reached out to Maria and her children and she has come to faith in Christ and is a vital part of the local church.
We must not be like King George and remain “deaf to the voice of justice.” Children are fleeing oppression and becoming pawns in our broken immigration systems, families are being torn apart, and we are turning a deaf ear to the cries of suffering and injustice as we blame the immigrant and point fingers at one another. King George did the same. He blamed the colonist, he pointed fingers at the East Indies Trading Co. and parliament. He did not want to deal with the problem. Who was right? King George or the founders who dared to believe all men were created equal, endowed by God with rights that should not be taken away by those in power. I think we would agree in the wisdom of the brave 56 men who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor on a dream that would be America. Let’s continue that dream and not see any person forced to live in the shadows of our broken justice system. And those of us who are Christ followers should see the opportunity to love our neighbor, make a difference, and go and do likewise.