When I was a kid, my parents had a set of books on the bookshelf that always fascinated me. They were burgundy with gold trim on all the spines and a shield with ”VE” “RI” “TAS” on three books in the center of the shield. They were The Harvard Classics. I never read all of them when I was little and I don’t even remember if my parents had all 51 volumes. My favorite was the volume with all the tales of “The Thousand and One Nights.” I would read that over and over. When my parents divorced, my dad took the books with him. Since I was the only one who ever read any of them, I wasn’t really sure why, but he did. Many years have passed and I have discovered my local library has the entire set of all 51 volumes. It’s like I’m a kid again.
I’m currently reading the volume “American Historical Documents.” It is full of treaties, inaugural addresses and important documents in our history as a country. I’m sure at some point in school we had to read The Declaration but I had never read it as an adult until this book. All italics are my emphasis and I’m only going to reprint the first two paragraphs. The rest of The Declaration is the list of all the things the King of England was doing that pushed the American colonies to war.
“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.
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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
We are only human and we will never have a perfect government because we can never be perfect but I do think we can get a little closer. We should not be okay with a government that thinks it’s okay to be this much in debt. We should not be okay with a government that thinks it’s okay to encourage excessive consumerism.
And those are just two of my issues with the government. I’m sure there are more issues all over this country. I’ve never tried to understand politics and government. One class in high school on American Government was not enough to get me to understand how important it is that I use my voice as an American. I am the Government. I have to understand what is going on if I want to make a change or see a change in how my country is run.
It will take a lot of work and reading to catch up on what’s happening in our country. It will fascinate and frustrate me by turns. It will be an adventure and will be something I can hopefully teach to my daughter so she always knows she can make a difference too. And I never would have gotten to this point if my parents hadn’t had those burgundy books on the bookshelf.