April 8, 2013

In The Declaration, What Came First? God and the Natural Law or the Pursuit of Happiness?


By Larry Peterson

There has been much fan fare over the words in the Declaration of Independence, Pursuit of Happiness. It seems that many folks use these three words as justification for their own agendas. The rationale seems to have taken hold that if a person wants something that makes them happy they have a right (as defined in the Declaration of Independence) to secure that happiness.

Let me clarify something; The words, Pursuit of Happiness, are the last three words of the first sentence in the SECOND paragraph of the Declaration. The first paragraph and following sentence read as follows:

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to 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 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." 

Here's the thing. It seems that all we hear about are the last three words, Pursuit of Happiness. Thomas Jefferson was a very smart man. He placed the preceding words of, "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God",  in the very first paragraph for a reason.  He, and all the signers, (who became traitors to the British crown subject to the death penalty upon signing) were giving all who read this document the order in which our value system as Americans would be defined. There is a GOD and the Natural Law is His. Therefore, Pursuit of Happiness followed those precepts. God and His Natural Law came first and everything else followed. There was no question about it. That is the way it was for these brave patriots.

It seems that 237 years later in 2013 the Pursuit of Happiness has become the rallying cry for a relatavistic society in which everyone who wants their own way screams "I am entitled to my Pursuit of Happiness."  The words used in the Declaration -- God, Creator and Natural Law -- are not mine. They come from a man much smarter than I could ever hope to be. How come those words are never mentioned when demanding the Pursuit of Happiness?  They are not mentioned because it is an impossibility for the Pursuit of Happiness to  trump the the Natural Law as given by God the Creator.

The Pursuit of Happiness also involves a common thread that is deeply woven into it. This thread is made up of words hated by many in the year 2013, words such as morality, decency, virtue, honor, chastity, respect and yes, Godliness. These are real words with deep meanings and they do exist. There are many who hate these words today. They hate them because they interfere with their personal wants and desires. But there are  many more who hold them in high esteem. These Americans deserve the Pursuit of Happiness also.

                                  ©Larry Peterson 2013