Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone is having a happy and fun Independence Day!

I thought about writing something patriotic, about how I love America and how, despite my firm dedication to complaining about everything, I am really grateful to be born here and to live here.

But then I decided to put on my best Eugene Peterson* hat and re-present the Declaration of Independence in contemporary language.

*Eugene Peterson, for those of you who don't know, wrote a translation of the Bible that is actually readable. It is actually pretty fun to read no matter what your religious (or non-religious) views are.

So here we go.

The Declaration of Independence - 2008 Interpretation

We are Americans. We want you to know that we tried to work it out with you but enough is enough. You have pushed us too far. We are letting you know it isn't going to work out for us in the long run because there are some fundamental concepts you are ignoring.

We are human beings. We are not your playthings. We believe that we need to be treated with respect. We believe we have the right to live. We have the right to be free. We have the right to strive to be the best we can be.

Your job as a leader is to respect us and acknowledge first that we are people. When a government treats us like dirt or cattle or anything that is not a person, that government has failed. We give you the right to govern us, but if you take advantage of us, we are forced to take that right away from you.

We're not doing this lightly. We know life is hard and life without you might seem harder at first, but the way you have treated us is beyond reason. You need to learn that people are not supposed to be treated that way, and the only way that it seems that you will get the message is if we just end it now and walk away. To not end it now, to just endure in silence, would be wrong.

So, listen up everyone, here is what the King of England has done:

-He behaves like he is above the law.
-He prevents the local government officials from doing what needs to be done.
-He doesn't listen.
-He doesn't have public hearings - all of his dealings are in some undisclosed back room.
-He fires or hampers people who he perceives to be political opponents.
-He appoints weak political cronies. They don't do their jobs right and actually cause harm.
-He prevents hardworking people from other lands from obtaining citizenship or getting a leg up.
-He doesn't believe in fair trials.
-He only pays court judges who are loyal to him and not to the law.
-He has created an insane bureaucracy that bleeds all of our money and food away from us.
-He has created a police state when there is no need for one.
-He has taken the military away from us.
-He makes us obey his political allies, even of they have no legal authority over us.
-He places large amounts of armed men among our unarmed citizenry.
-He covers up for these armed men when they commit violent crimes or murder us.
-He keeps us from trading with anyone but him.
-He taxes us without cause.
-He doesn't let us be tried by a jury.
-He packs us up, takes us to faraway places, and tries us in secret there.
-He doesn't honor the laws on the books; he just makes it up as he goes.
-He rewrites the laws on the books when they don't suit his agenda.
-He ignores our attempts to write laws and to maintain the peace.
-He has abandoned his job, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
-He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

At this moment, there are ships of mercenaries headed towards us. When they arrive, they will kill us. We tried to be reasonable and this is how we are treated.

He has taken Americans away from us and asked them to fight America.

He has caused civil unrest.

Throughout all of this, we have calmly asked for him to reconsider. When we ask for some reasonableness, he responds by treating us even worse. He is a bad leader and is unfit to govern us.

The British people who are loyal to him have not been much better. We tried to be reasonable with them. We filed the right papers and played their little government game. And even after all that, they still ignore us and treat us as something less than human.

Enough is enough. If they want to fight us, then we shall fight. If they want to help us, then we shall be friends.

We are Americans. We are men. We are women. We are human beings. We should be an Independent Nation. We should no longer support the British Crown. We should no longer have to report to a tyrant. As Americans we can make war, negotiate peace, write treaties, buy and sell things, and do anything else Independent States can do.

We believe this is what God intended us to be when He made us humans. We will give our lives to these believes. We will give our money for these believes. With every bit of our personal integrity, we will dedicate ourselves to these beliefs.

***

And for those of you who like the ol' reliable standby, here it is:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. 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.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

8 comments:

heather said...

so, you're saying bush is the king of england now?

can we send him back and demand a refund?

M. Robert Turnage said...

They're both named George. I'll give you that. But really, it was not intentional. It just happened that some of our Founding Forefathers had concerns that will always be timely.

I was about halfway through typing it when I thought, "Some people might think I'm railing against Bush." So I decided to put the original right there beneath it for people to compare. Believe it or not, I try to keep my friends on both sides of the aisle, and I don't generally agree with Bush bashing. (Case in point - he is not stupid. He is very shrewd and cunning and lulls people into a false sense of security by letting them think he is stupid. Then he sucker punches them. Any time someone dismisses Bush as stupid, they've already lost. All we have to do after that is wait for the sucker punch. But I have digressed.)

It is always astounding to me how the same issues keep cropping up, though. Only our reactions to them change. In 1776, people were willing to die to have jury duty. Now, we would rather die than serve jury duty.

And I'm afraid, just like any bad relationship that ends, we can't get a refund. The best we can do is learn from these lessons, swear never to do this again, and move on.

Please, spend your 4th of July someplace other than the internet. Have a happy 4th!

turnagem said...

I hope you will copyright and get your Petersonized version of the Declaration of Independence published in lots of places - places that will pay you for your brilliance. You caused me to re-think what we're celebrating today. Thank you!

heather said...

i agree wholeheartedly, bush isn't near as stupid as he's made out to sound. but the guy thrives on the good ole boy system, which is rarely good for the majority. and yeah, the same issues do keep cropping up, you'd think by now we would have solved them and moved on to a new set of issues. i guess true change is too much to expect though.

regardless, i did stay off the computer for the 4th, and had a great day with too much bbque and funnel cakes. went on some cheesy rides with cheeks and came pretty close to getting some good shots of the fireworks. all in all, it was a perfectly spent holiday. hope you and yours had a great day too. :)

Cyber D said...

My favorite part is your second paragraph... it rhymes! Could you right one where it rhymes thorughout? That would be awesome... better yet, re-write The Da Vinci Code and make it rhyme while your at it. That book is complete shit.

M. Robert Turnage said...

Turnagem, Thanks mom!

Heather, I'm from Texas so I've seen the ugly details of the Good Ol' Boy system. You are totally right. Happier thoughts - We had a great time celebrating the 4th on my dad's boat. We went out to the middle of a lake and watched fireworks.

Cyber, here is my rewrite of the DaVinci code - "We are all allegedly brilliant people who collectively are not as smart as a box of rocks. Every reader can see the plot twists happen before we do. Useless albino! Ridiculous peanut allergy! The End."

Tera said...

MrT we're going to have to petition to get a word limit on your blog...I'm exhausted!

Cyber REALLY cracks me up here, LOL!

Anyways, I hope you had a terrific holiday weekend! :-)

NoRegrets said...

I did finish, but skimmed the end since someone else had posted the original. So there.

Oh, I've always wanted to watch fireworks from a boat. Gotta do that someday.

Hi MRT's mom!