Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Questioning Punctuation And Interpretations


It happens all the time. You write an email, letter, or even some sort of business document and think that everything is done but when you look it over again you realize that you missed something. Nothing that impacts the content as all of the information is there but there is a single seemingly insignificant dot or subtle line that has been either added or not included that completely changes how it is read. Sometimes the most brilliant piece of writing can be derailed by punctuation. This is the exact point (no pun intended) that is currently being debated as either a period is missing or has been added to one of this county’s founding documents, The Declaration of Independence. The full research paper can be read here.

An opinion that I have seen bandied about since the release of this research leaves one with a weighty sense of suspicion as there are rarely moments of coincidence when it comes to politics and that is exactly what we find ourselves looking at in this particular instance. Basically, what this individual surmises, without the period, is that this cornerstone document grants increased power to the government over the people and their rights. In an era when the central figures in Washington are leveraging ever mode and means to secure more and more power, the motivations behind such a ‘revelation’ are suspect at a minimum and at worst liberal propaganda. Many critics of the research are leaning toward the latter as the supposition made by this scholar completely flies in the face of both what we fought against to gain our independence and what the founding fathers have expounded upon in their own writings. Sometimes there is no error in the faded pages of time, occasionally there is an error in the records kept, sometimes a period is nothing more than an un-cleaned spec on a pair of glasses.

However, there is another side to this whole argument which it the one to which I subscribe. Given that there seems to be rather convincing evidence that the period that we have all generally accepted in the transcript is indeed an error, the continuation of the thought outlined in the paragraph is what we must focus on. While some, on both sides of the political spectrum, have concluded that the absence of the period grants additional power to the government. However, I believe this is an overreaching statement made in error. The rights of the people are still the central focus and the role of government is to ensure that the rights of the people are not infringed. Basically, it is a reinforcement of the rights of the people and that the primary role of government is to protect those rights NOT restrict, limit, or strip them away.

There are too many possibilities that could be the culprit to this punctuation error theory that are too quickly glossed over and the intentions of the words and the spirit of the declaration is completely dismissed in the hypothesis. Brave actions and the intentions behind them are what secured our freedom from an oppressive and negligent government and there is no possible reason for the founders of this country to dismiss those sacrifices in order to empower the few over the many in determining rights. While I don’t anticipate that fact to resonate with the current administration, it is a large part of what has proven to be the catalyst in the success of this democratic republic and government should support the rights of the people to ensure that the tree of liberty remains healthy and vibrant.

We are a nation of individuals endowed with inalienable rights along with rights that ensure our freedom and liberty even under the rule of an oppressive government. While many may not exercise those rights or even take the time to fully understand them, they are there for our safety and for us to protect ourselves and protect us from being ruled rather than served. We were not founded on the notion of an expansive government, we were founded on the necessity of a strong people to oppose an overreaching government. The government needs to focus on protecting our rights so that we can protect ourselves. And while we will most likely never return to those ideals, it is our duty to find balance in this country and to protect ourselves from views and interpretations that fly in the face of our individual rights, liberty, and freedom.     

"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."