There ought to be a law

Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002

Here are some things I've been thinking about for a some time. It comes from my understanding, somewhat, about things that are contained in the Declaration of Independence that many people - more so politicians and lawyers, aren't paying too much heed to.

Kadashan by Bertrand J. Adams Sr.

It has to do with this equality business and unalienable rights that are supposedly guaranteed to everyone who exists under the banner of the American flag. It also has to do with our natural right to stand up for our natural rights.

It says in the declaration that all men are created equal in the eyes of the Creator. Herein, I believe, lies the foundation for all human rights. Now this doesn't mean whether we are black, red, white or yellow that we are created equal economically, socially, or politically. So governments, whether they be national, state, regional or local have no power or authority to try to make us equal in these areas by whatever programs, services, functions or activities they may administer on behalf of the people, for the people, of the people etc.

What I think the founders meant by this phrase was that we all have the same opportunities to advance ourselves politically, socially and economically if we so wish. Governments whether they be local, regional, state or national are obligated to afford us these rights to their citizens. It is up to us if we want to progress through life as a successful, productive citizen, or if we just want to be a deadbeat. In any event, whatever bed we make for ourselves is our own doing if we are healthy, willing and able to take on the challenges that may lay before us.

What about this unalienable right concept? The declaration says that we are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights - that among these are the protection of our lives, our liberties and our pursuit of happiness. It also states that governments were created for that purpose - that is to protect our rights, not take them away. Of course, when we violate our natural right to live, enjoy our liberties, and obtain whatever happiness we are striving for, we eventually suffer the consequences. Then people find reasons for laws to be made. The appeal to the legislatures is that "there ought to be a law." I think the intent of the Founding Fathers was to afford us all the opportunity to do whatever we want with our lives so long as we don't interfere with the right of others to do the same thing. When we begin to interfere with others' rights then laws are made. We come up with this "there ought to be a law" syndrome and now we have so many laws on the books that we can't keep up with enforcing them.

Finally, we can ask ourselves the question: "Do we live in a democracy?" I think we can find the answer quite quickly when we go through the Pledge Of Allegiance when it says "I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America and to the - what???" Why to the "republic for which we stand." When the founders debated this to death they thought that it would be dangerous to be a democracy on its own because history has shown that absolute power to the people could lead to anarchy. A republican form of government means that it is a representative of the people and also limited to what it can do. However, to give complete power to a group of people could lead to despotism. So what they did was make America a democratic-republic. The democracy part allows people to elect good people to represent them in the affairs of government. The republican part allows those good people to work for the best interest of the people who put them there. And then it is up to the good people to be the watchdogs. As watchdogs we have an obligation to make sure that these good people do what they are supposed to do and also not to become so powerful that governments begin to usurp our rights.

Are we doing our part?

Kadashan is the Tlingit name of Bertrand J. Adams Sr., who lives in Yakutat.

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