by Deborah Steele Hazen
Leading up to this 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it occurred to us that it might be interesting to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful 18th century language into modern American English.
We realize that the very idea of rewriting what is undoubtedly one of the most important documents in human history seems arrogant, but that is not our intent. In no way do we presume to approximate the eloquence of word and thought in the original declaration.
We just thought this exercise in writing might spur some reflection about the importance of what the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did, what the people of the original 13 colonies that became the United States of America were enduring at the time, and the relevance of the meaning of July 4, 1776 in today’s world.
So, with apologies to Mr. Jefferson, here goes:
With Apologies to Mr. Jefferson
There are times in history when it is necessary for a group of people to remove themselves from the authority of those in political power, and create their own government. It is important that we state the reasons why we think this action is necessary.
We believe it is an undeniable fact that all human beings have equal rights to live life as they choose. Governments are formed by free citizens for the purpose of ensuring their rights, and those governments are answerable to the people they were formed to serve. If the government fails to serve the people properly by sustaining their freedom, safety and happiness, the people have the right to change that government or replace it entirely.
Of course, major changes to government should not be done lightly, and it is human nature to put up with some mistakes, but when there has been a long series of failures that have led to government being too powerful and dictatorial, it is the right and the responsibility of the people to change the government and get rid of the dictators.
We have been patient, but the current administration has attempted to seize too much power and has taken actions that have repeatedly hurt the people of this nation.
It has refused to obey laws which are for the public good.
It has interfered with lower levels of government and ignored problems.
It has refused to pass laws that would help many people, unless those people agree to give up some of their rights.
The legislature has been called into session in a place distant from most of the people, for the sole purpose of trying to pressure them into agreeing with the administration’s ideas, and then, when they didn’t, the legislature has been dismissed.
The current administration has crippled the ability of our elected representatives to get anything done, to the point that we are endangered both from within and outside of our borders.
It has not adequately addressed the issues of immigration.
It has obstructed justice, and the authority of judges.
It has created a huge, expensive bureaucracy with officials who harass the people and burden them with taxes and fees.
It has taken control of the military and used it without the consent of the legislature.
We must change the current government because it has allowed foreign nations to have too much power over us, to station armed troops among us, and to exempt them from our laws.
The current administration has interfered with international trade; imposed taxes without our consent; deprived citizens of trial by jury, and deported people for non-existent crimes.
It has taken over a neighboring country; established an arbitrary government there, and is threatening to do the same thing here.
Those who are now in power are taking away our basic rights and laws, and are trying to change the form of government which we established, stating that they have the power to do so.
In our opinion, the current head of government is already waging a war against us – controlling the waterways, destroying our communities and the lives of our people.
At this time, the dictator in power is transporting large foreign armies to take complete control in a manner that is comparable to the worst invasions in the history of the world. These actions by the leader of a civilized nation are completely unacceptable.
He is forcing our fellow citizens to fight against us or risk their own lives. His actions are causing friends, neighbors and relatives to turn against each other.
As the government has grown worse and worse, we have attempted to address the problems through the established system, but our attempts have only been met with more tyranny. Therefore, the current head of government has proven himself unworthy to be the leader of this nation.
We have appealed to our former allies, but they have not helped, and have supported the current dictator.
Therefore, as representatives of the United States of America, we appeal to God to support us in this declaration that we are free and independent states – independent from other nations and their rulers – with the power to wage war, make peace, establish alliances and commerce with other countries, and do everything else that a free nation has the right to do.
In support of this declaration, with a firm faith in God, we pledge to each other our lives, our possessions and, most importantly, our integrity.