Principles of Freedom Part 1
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote,
“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…”
In other words, what our Founding Fathers were asserting was the fact that the King of England, or any king for that matter, wasn't born with an extra rights that somehow gave him a claim to rule over everyone else. The point they were making is that because all men are created equal, everyone has the same rights and an equal share in them as everyone else. By way of this principle then, the founders were making a legitimate case for declaring independence from the king of England because since each man has at the moment of creation the same rights as everyone else, each man is rightfully, in a sense, his own king.
There are different words and phrases we use to explain what it means to have individual rights. For example, if you were to pick up a Black’s Law dictionary and look up the word sovereignty or sovereign, you would most likely find a couple of definitions similar to these:
Sovereignty – Holding supreme dominion, authority, or rule.
Sovereign – A person, body, or state bestowed with independent and supreme authority.
America is a sovereign nation, that is we don't have any other nation whose rule our government and people fall under. The easiest way to illustrate sovereignty is to give you the example of a man who owns land that borders your property. If you want to walk across his land you will have to ask his permission because he owns it, not you. He may not give you permission, but if he does, you will be allowed to walk across his land so you can get to the library a little quicker. You have to ask permission to use his land as a shortcut because his land does not belong to you; you have no right to it. Let’s say that your neighbor gives you permission to walk across his land, but after three weeks he decides he does not want you on his property anymore so he tells you to get off and never step foot on his land again. As the owner of the property, he can do this because he is the supreme authority; he is the chief ruler, and he is therefore sovereign over his piece of property. You, however, can walk on, build on, dig holes in, or sell your land if you choose to because you own it and you have the right to it. You don't need to ask permission to exercise your rights to use your land because you have the sovereign authority over it.
As people, we are sovereign as individuals and have the sole ownership of ourselves. This means that we have the supreme authority over the inherent rights that God gave us and at the exact moment of our creation, have every right to live free from others trying to claim ownership of our lives. Our thoughts are inherent because our thoughts cannot be separated from our mind and we are sovereign over our thoughts because we own them; we have the supreme authority over them, and no one can take them from us or control them for us and we have the freedom to think whatever we want. Alexander Hamilton may not have always been the best champion of limited government, but he was right when he wrote,
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
Only you, and not the government, own the rights to your body, your thoughts, as well as the right to do what is necessary to preserve your life. The inherent right of self preservation is yours by virtues of the laws of nature - your body is designed to keep you alive as long as possible. Your individual and inherent rights will always be with you until the day you die.
The evening news is a constant reminder of the oppressive totalitarian governments around the world that enslave their citizens. History is full of tyrants who claim ownership of people; regulating their speech, their religious practices, their pursuit of happiness, etc. Although it would appear that our natural rights can be taken away from the individual, the truth still remains the same; all men are created equal and we are all endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights; rights that cannot be surrendered, sold or transferred to someone else. If you tell me that someone has taken away your freedom of speech, I'll tell you that it's only because you surrendered your right to speak when you decided that you were unwilling to speak because you have allowed your rights to be oppressed. Thomas Jefferson often referred to inherent rights in the context of Natural law because our freedom of speech is just as natural as our ability to speak- we are using the faculties that our Creator gave us in order to manifest our inherent rights and abilities. These natural rights are ours until you we die. Although we may choose not to exercise them, no one can take them from us.
One of our Founding Fathers, Patrick Henry, is remembered for a speech he gave in which he declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry is enlightening us to the fact that there is no middle ground between liberty and slavery. You can't be half free or one third a slave; you're either free or you're not. Either you claim absolute ownership over yourself, or you don't. The men and women around the world throughout history who died fighting for their freedom died free. The point is this: you will always be free as long as you exercise your freedom. Even if you exercise freedom in the face of opposition, you are still free. The only alternatives to living free are enslavement or death, hence Patrick Henry’s famous quote, “Give me Liberty or give me death.” You are a sovereign individual no matter what. The question then is will you fold and give yourself over to slavery or will you live free even if it means death.
Remember this, if you are ever told to ask permission for something you supposedly have a right to, you may need to question whether you actually have that right to it since you have to ask permission from someone else to use it.