A Decent Respect

As promised, I am going to attempt to go through the Declaration and share my understanding on its contents. I would love to hear your thoughts on each of these sections as well. Here is the portion for today.

“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.”

Our world is filled with injustice. Whether it is a minor injustice that has been inflicted against you, or a major injustice inflicted upon a community, the one thing in common is that an injustice is being done. An example of a minor injustice that occurs against us could be something as simple as being cut off while driving. A major injustice is slavery or genocide. How do we respond to injustice? Where is the line drawn in which we are willing to stand up and fight for what is just? Do we ignore the injustice as long as it isn’t happening to us? Or are we willing to fight for others, to fight for a larger cause?

This section of the Declaration begins powerfully. I find it interesting that it states “human events.” While they are addressing their current situation they are also giving hope to societies in the future. “When in the Course of human events,” is acknowledging that there will be future problems, but these can also be combatted against and stood up for. There will be a time when the action of separation is necessary. This is true for countries and even in the microcosm of interpersonal relationships. For the health of the people and the nation separation at some point might be necessary.

More so, we are entitled to this separation and equality. We are entitled to equality. How does that make you feel? When it comes to injustice we feel slighted because we are not being treated with the equality we know we deserve.

The last part of this section delivers still more powerful guidance. Look at these two phrases:

a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires

“that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Oftentimes in argumentative situations people will raise their voice or use violence. Instead of listening to one another people believe they can win through manpower or by whomever has the loudest voice. And this is harmful. By doing so we are showing disrespect and ignorance. Instead of caring about the situation we care about being right (whether or not we actually are), we care about showing our dominance, which in turn is showing that we do not believe in equality.

And the equality is linked with having a “decent respect.” Part of what makes this particularly interesting (and a bit humorous) is that the writers of the declaration are claiming themselves as being decently respectful people because they are listing the reasons for the separation.

This one sentence encapsulates an ongoing problem throughout human history, but it also offers the beginning of a non-violent solution that causes us to assess our views on equality, decency, and the laws of human nature.


Stay tuned for the continuation of this series of explorations on the Declaration of Independence for this July 4th week.


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