Natural Human Dignity linked to American Independence

Posted on December 21, 2010


One might argue that the highest right, the one that is essential for the pursuit of happiness is not shelter, food and clothing; it is human dignity. When an entity such as a government impedes, prevents or exerts undo influence on a person impeding them from earning a living, starting or operating a business, and providing for their families-they suffer loss of dignity.

The American colonists sought freedom to live their own lives, freedom to practice their faith, freedom from intrusion and unfair taxation. Thomas Jefferson spelled out the core principles of this burgeoning nation when he penned the Declaration of Independence. It is always helpful to read this document from time to time to find our American center. The words: “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 think the word, “pursuit” is key. It does not say “should be given happiness.”  Dignity is achieved when under our own independent power, we provide for ourselves what we need-shelter, food, clothing, financial security.

There is much argument afoot these days between conservatives and liberals as to the function of government. Is it to provide goods and services to people? Or is it to enable people to provide for themselves? Based on the principles of our founding, based on the fact that our Declaration of Independence was not just a document to free ourselves from a tyrannical and intrusive British government, but also to win for ourselves the right for an individual to have the freedom and the liberty to pursuit that happiness and hence acquire that basic human need of dignity.

Dignity is lost when one is reliant on a handout to survive. It might be easier to take unemployment for long periods of time-even to justify staying on unemployment when a less than desirable job comes along. But what does that person loose? Why do we have a government that fosters loss of dignity instead of encouraging self-reliance? Does this not go against our core American principles? Long term unemployment is no longer just a bridge to other employment, it becomes a state handout and encourages addiction to free money and steals dignity from American citizens.

As Americans, we should shun the notion of this use of our tax dollar. It should not be acceptable for ourselves and others to not pursuit our dignity. I realize that in an economic recession-finding that job is tougher. It is up to communities to band together and forge ahead to create economic growth and opportunity. It is not the government’s purpose to do this-otherwise it would be stealing the dignity from its people. It is up to government to reward and encourage innovation, business growth and entrepreneurship. We might question, do all these “entitlements” that the US government spends billions of dollars on actually fosters our core American principle of extending to its citizens the opportunity to pursuit happiness, or do they impede it?

We are the only people on the planet that fought its way to independence from the stronger British government. We have strength to do the tough thing-the right and better thing instead of the easy thing. It is harder to be American than it is to be European and there is unparalleled pride and dignity in that identity.

Do the hard, the great, the brave thing-Be American.

Read more about it: