It’s a word that has many different connotations. For the purposes of this article, I would like to explore the denotative meaning in the Declaration of Independence, when our Founding Fathers declared, “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,”. It has been distressing to find how few know the value of this document, its meaning, and the ideal it declared, from which sprang a new Nation.
Often today when we say someone is “endowed”, it is accompanied with a wry grin or a flush of jealousy as we often are referring to certain physical characteristics, often gender specific, that make a individual more attractive in the beholder’s eye than, perhaps, the “average” person. While “the rest of us” struggle with feelings of inadequacy when in the presence of those that are “endowed”, the writers of the Declaration of Independence had a different perspective of the physical endowments of humanity that were inclusive to all humans, yes, even the much less than spectacular such as I. This springs from the words “unalienable rights”, which is directly linked to the word “endowed”.
The writers of our Founding documents also used the term “Natural Born Rights” interchangeably with with the term “unalienable rights” in their conversations concerning the founding documents. So whether you believe in a Creator or that you were simply born, you can be assured that the Founding Fathers were steadfast in their belief that certain truths were “self-evident”, that we are all “created” or born equal, and when formed in the womb we all are created or “endowed” with “certain” Natural Born or “unalienable” rights. These “certain” endowed rights differed from other natural endowments of prowess, intellect or beauty, of which mankind is not created equal, these “certain” endowments were not only endowed or hard wired into our very being, our DNA, but were the same for everyone, “equal”.
“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, these endowments are “certain” because they are few, specific, and without question, “self-evident”. The Founders did not write the Founding documents to prescribe or give us these rights; instead, these natural born rights are cited as evidence to the reasoning behind the Declaration of Independence. What was “self-evident” to them was that natural born right for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness has been “endowed” in mankind from the beginning of time and that no ruler or system of governance could or should try to take it away.
This is the great contention of our day! Do our rights come from government or are created in us, natural born? Our Founding Fathers were willing to die for their belief that our rights are natural born not government issued.
But many of the political establishment dating back to Woodrow Wilson have despised the ideal declared in our Founding documents. Progressives have worked tirelessly since the turn of the century to relegate our rights to words on documents rather than the ideals the documents protect. Rights created by documents can be lawyered, wordsmithed, and debated into futility and absurdity, but if “certain rights” are “unalienable”, natural born, they cannot be dissuaded by the rulings of contentious men and women.
“Unalienable” means they cannot be separated, set apart, taken away, or divested from us because they are woven into the very fabric of our life being. Just as your fingerprint makes you unique, our “unalienable rights” unite us all as humankind. In those aspects, we are all the same.
Yes, some civilizations have allowed regimes to suppress their natural born rights, yet, despite the brutality of man, each child born dawns anew the natural born desire for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The gift that we have as Americans is the light of illumination that our Founders shined on the natural born freedoms we possess in the words they wrote in our Founding documents. In light of the confusion that surrounds us in these days, it behooves us as a people, so gifted and Blessed, to revisit the Foundation on which we stand free and learn its meaning.