Southern Views

This will be my 68th Fourth of July and I am indeed thankful for each one of them. As I get older, I am becoming more sentimental and thankful, for I realize more and more the incredible blessings that we enjoy as Americans.

I have my grandchildren this weekend, which is not an infrequent occurrence, and we decided, at their request, to watch the Chronicles of Narnia Series. The story starts with the evacuation of children from London as the Nazi bombing starts during WWII. It made me realize just how blessed we are in that we never had to send our children away to keep them safe. God forbid that it should ever happen.

I proudly hoist the American flag in front of my house in the mornings and lower it in the evenings. I have no fear that I will be persecuted because of it. It is my right. It is important to note that I have just as much freedom to fly any other flag that I should choose, or to fly no flag at all. When I take my flag down and put it up, I am careful that it not touch the ground because I respect what it stands for, yet, I am free to trample it underfoot if I should choose.

In the morning, my family and I will go to church to worship as we choose, what a blessing that is. Whatever my faith I can practice it in utter confidence that there will be no interference from the government. Interestingly my church will be starting a beach service at the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store, now that’s true freedom.

I went to the grocery store and purchased all kinds of fruits, vegetables, meats, condiments, and dairy products. Most anything that I wanted was available for a price that I could afford. Bev and I even enjoyed king crab clusters for dinner last evening.

I was free to marry the woman I chose and I am free to unmarry her, or she me, if I were stupid enough to do so. We shared the joy of having two children, but could have had twenty had we so desired. We were able to provide an excellent education for our two children and are participating in doing the same for our grandchildren.

I had the honor of serving my country in the military, as did my son. We could have worked our way up the ranks as far as we chose without having to bribe someone, or depend on family connections.

Since I was thirty-five, I’ve experienced one medical catastrophe after another. Thankfully, I’ve had adequate insurance to cover most of the expenses to enable us to receive the excellent standard of care with which we are blest. There are so many places in the world where I could have been born I would not have survived.

I am thankful that throughout my life, my wife and I have been able to provide a good standard of living for our family. My children were never gone hungry or cold from necessity.

All of these things that I have enjoyed are because a group of noble, brave, and wise men wrote a document that contained the line: “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.”

I realize that my experience is not even a blip in the overall experience of human kind, but from my perspective, I feel that little by little these “unalienable rights” are eroding. I don’t believe there are evil people with evil plots seeking to destroy our way of life. No, rather I believe that good, well-meaning people are attempting to equalize the quality of life for all. In doing so, however, it seems to me that the destruction of our society is bound to be the end result. In all of history no system of government has survived when government, no matter how benevolent, attempted to equalize the quality of life for everyone.

In spite of the wrongs in America, it is the most benevolent society that has ever existed and can only remain so if the freedoms that our founding fathers gave us as their legacy continue to be our guiding principles.

Dear God, thank you for “the home of the brave and the land of the free;” “Long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light.”

For your reading:

Declaration of Independence

Here is the complete text of the Declaration of Independence.
The original spelling and capitalization have been retained.

(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)
The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

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 to 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, pursuing 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 an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
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 benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we 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. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776

Jack deJarnette

Jack deJarnette

I am a United Methodist Minister who in June 2008, was placed on incapacity leave due to kidney failure.  My kidneys failed due to immusuppression medications secondary to a heart transplant in 1997. The ministry is my second career having spent 12 previous years at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta as Chief Respiratory Therapist and Technical Director of Life Support Systems at Emory University School of Medicine. I  have a wonderful wife of 45 years, two super children, and four grandchildren. My life has been exciting, challenging, and full of wonder as in my early years I was concerned with saving lives and in my later years saving souls I was graduated  from Georgia Military Academy in 1961 (Woodward Academy). I attended Emory-at-Oxford College, The University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Emory University for postgraduate work. I received my ministry credentials through the United Methodist Church Course of Study at Emory's candler School of Theology. My Theology is primarily Wesleyan and varies with the particular topic under discussion. I refuse to be labeled either liberal or conservative. My politics are moderate embracing what I hope is the best of all parties. I have a deep love for Christ, the Church, and the United States of America. Bev (my wife) and I are deeply thankful to God for the blessings that have been showered on us throughout our lives.

  1. Frank Povah

    Well written Mark, but can you tell me why it has all gone awry?

  2. Frank, this is from Jack, not Mark. I an not terribly astute as a political or social expert, but it occurs to me that it began when legislators became career oriented and not public servant oriented. Career politicians do whatever it takes to stay in office without considering the needs of the country and we are prone to vote for the politicians that offer us the most regardless of the needs of the country. Each decade, I think that all three branches of government have strayed further and further from their intended roles. I an mot so simple minded to believe that things stay exactly the same over time, but I believe that we would be far better off if the three had stayed within their original parameters.

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