Is it time to alter or abolish our current system?
While I look at my social media and all the posts of friends and family today, I see a familiar divide that I see every year on the fourth of July:
They post about how ‘proud’ they are to be born by chance into the United States, as if they themselves are rebelling against the (current) greatest superpower of the world.
They hang up on the past mistakes (ignoring the good) and criticize the country we were born into to distance themselves from it, as if they are so humble and righteous that they go around screaming their own mistakes they inherited or stumbled into on their own life journey.
There is reasoning behind both of these groups of people, obviously, or they would have nothing to stand on. Yet, I can’t help but feel that the true idea of the American Revolution and Independence was about saying ‘Fuck off’ to the country you were born into (particularly the people running it) and looking to the future rather than the past.
I have done my best to live my life by crossing oceans, starting new lives, and generally throwing metaphorical tea into the sea about most things that take away freedom, especially taxes.
More than anything, I have lived by the most simple and true principles the founding fathers always strived for:
the Pursuit of Happiness
July 4th is not when we won independence. It is not when we created a congress or an army. It is when we declared our independence from the world’s greatest superpower at the time.
We weren’t supposed to win the war with Vegas’s 20:1 odds against us, but luckily, we did. And that is what the 4th of July is to me. Declaring your independence and believing in it even when the odds are against you and you are surely signing your own death sentence.
It may be treason and damn well stupid to say this being a citizen of the world’s greatest superpower of our time. But, fuck it, I’m American. I’m declaring my independence.
My mostly unanimous Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person, currently Steven Warren Stribling, to dissolve the bands, any bands, which have connected him 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.
[The preamble is short, but my god, what a sentence, eh?]
The Philosophical Foundation
The I, that we all call ourselves, holds these truths to be self-evident, that all the Universe’s creatures are created unique yet equal in the grand scheme of creation, 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, my own awareness of the preciousness of my life and my place in this world have been instituted, deriving its powers, not from what another else says is true of me, but from my own firm conviction and personal consent. I must so decide, that these cannot be infringed by others or even myself.
— That whenever any thought, belief, or action becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of This Person to ignore such thoughts, beliefs, or actions, and to institute new thoughts, beliefs, or actions, laying their foundation on such principles and organizing my powers in such form, as seems most likely to affect my Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that rules and ways of being 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 the set ways of being and running life to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of damage and harm to myself, pursuing invariably the same Object evince a desire to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is my right, it is my duty, to throw off such shackles, and to provide new Guards for my future security.
— Such has been the patient sufferance of pre-established systems; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter the former systems.
My history is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation of wiser paths, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over myself. To prove this, let these Facts be submitted to a candid world.
The List of Grievances
I have been refused the choice of what is wholesome and necessary for my good, yet been coerced through taxation and threats of imprisonment of what is wholesome and necessary for my good.
I have been forbidden to rectify issues of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till said systems should be obtained; and when so suspended, they have utterly neglected to attend to them.
They have refused to respect individual liberty and choose instead to submit to large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in their System, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
The bureaucracy has made any chance to be heard unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from any real possibility of being heard, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with their measures.
They have dissolved Representative Organizations repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness their invasions on the rights of the people.
They have endeavored to prevent the population of any land; for that purpose obstructing the free travel of this shared planet; refusing to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new chances of opportunity.
They have made Judges dependent on their Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
They have erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
They have kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, or caused reasons to validate the validation of Standing Armies.
They have affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
They have combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our individual ways of life, and unacknowledged by our interests; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of this world:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For chasing us down and dragging us off for pretended offenses:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable personable Beliefs and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Right to Free Speech:
For suspending our own ability to think for ourselves, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
They have abdicated Rule over us, by declaring us out of their Protection and waging War against us.
They have plundered our bank accounts, ravaged our rights, burnt our freedoms, and destroyed the lives of our people.
They are at this time transporting large Armies of Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
They have constrained our fellow humans taken Captive on the border to enter our free Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
They have excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and have endeavored to bring on us the destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Explanation of Previous Actions
In every stage of this oppression, by the predetermined and unwritten contract I never signed, or that I allowed myself to fall into without thought or resistance, I have petitioned for living a freer, happier life in the most humble terms:
My repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury, by previous ignorance or weakness or laziness or by my unchosen laws, limitations, and rulers of life. These man-made systems of life whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of me or any free people.
Nor have I been wanting in attentions to our ruling brethren. I have told them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to end an unwarrantable jurisdiction over me. I have reminded them of the circumstances of my emigration and settlement here or wherever I may choose to settle. I have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and I have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. I must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as I hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
I, therefore, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do, solemnly publish and declare, I am Absolved from all Allegiance to any another, and that all political connection between myself and any, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent creature of this Existence in Time and Space, have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do.
— And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I independently pledge my Life, my Fortunes, and my sacred Honor.
This may all seem a bit extreme, even laughable. I don’t mean to seem inconsiderate to all the freedoms I have been given due to the men and women fighting before me. I have done my share of fighting as a veteran of both the US Air Force and French Foreign Legion.
Yet, it was doing that fighting and coming home to such nonsense that now, more than ever, do the words, ‘Live free or die!’ hold true to me.
Real freedom though is the freedom to fear as much as it is the freedom to love. It begins in the heart and mind. If I don’t feel free, then all the military victories in the world won’t make me feel any less watched, regulated, and weighed in my daily life.
If I don’t feel like I am free in every part of my life, all the government regulations ever written won’t have any meaning. We can always talk on a big-picture level, but unless it really applies to all of us, on an individual level, they are just empty words.
People should know and feel they are truly free. Otherwise, you can lead them out of tyranny and across the Red Sea with magic and they will still feel lost and deprived for the next 40 years.
For most, they may need to be told what to do. To feel the blanket of Security rather than the air of Liberty. Yet, I choose freedom. Like dancing with music without thought or pain. More than anything, I want to talk, think, and believe with a clear and honest heart and mind.
If you would like to write your own declaration of independence - from your god, country, family, friends, lover, or most likely, yourself - here are the basics of any declaration of independence:
A Preamble which answers the question: Why are we writing this document?
A Philosophical Foundation which answers the question: What gives us the right to declare our independence?
A List of Grievances which answers the question: How have our basic rights been violated?
An Explanation of Previous Actions which answers the question: What have we already done to solve our problems up to this point?
A Resolution which answers the question: What do we now intend to do?