OPINION: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Author’s Note: I must disclose that this article is an opinion article backed up with facts from accredited news organizations or valid web sources. The opinions expressed in this article are mine and do not reflect that of any organization or business I have previously worked for, currently work for or will work for in the future. This article is not meant to belittle any political groups or influential people in power.

“Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave? / O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

What do those lyrics mean to a family in 2022?

Maybe it means something to the family that has an adequate supply of baby formula. Or the parents that don’t have to worry about their child going to elementary school every day. Or the couple that doesn’t have to worry for their life just by going to church, or a nightclub or even a grocery store.

Maybe it means something to the women nationwide who don’t have to worry about their reproductive rights. Or even the queer and Black communities who live in constant fear that their rights could be stripped next.

Or the Black man fearing that his neck might be crushed by a police officer.

Or a childhood sweetheart who might be shoved by a policeman for standing up for her rights.

Or the underserved communities that were left to fight for themselves during a pandemic while rich colleagues were protecting each other’s assets.

Or the dreamers who just want a chance at life but have to risk it all just so they can have the same rights as you and I.

Or anyone who can afford to live in America today.

But it’s 2022, and yet, it feels like the 1950s.

If the past two years showed us anything, it’s that we really let each other down. The government let us down. Our fellow neighbors let us down. We let our neighbors down.

We failed to be united. We failed to help each other when the nation was shut down. We weren’t protecting our elders or youth. Our fellow college fraternities still held parties, putting us at risk.

And the government, politicians and the Supreme Court, all United States officials who we trust with our lives to protect us, failed us.

I want to make one point clear before I continue: it doesn’t matter if it’s the left or the right, both political parties are on a power trip in pursuit of more money. Every man is for himself.

The Supreme Court made a string of decisions the past few weeks. Some were in response to recent events and others may have come as a shock.

One of the rulings that came almost unexpectedly and maybe not surprisingly is the Supreme Court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in how they can regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In the 6-3 conservative-heavy vote, the court decided the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA authority to regulate emissions from power plants, a crucial factor of global warming.

The ruling hurts the Biden administration’s plans in combatting climate change which detailed steps to regulate plant emissions.

This can also date back to the Clean Power Plan, launched by the Obama administration, that never really found its footing. Then, with the 2016 election, there was a change in power and the plan was replaced. Since then, there was instability until the Biden administration would attempt to bring a clean air plan back.

In simple terms, this could be bad. The power was not taken away in full from the EPA, but it does leave a lot of questions about what could happen in the future in the fight against climate change.

If that’s not scary enough, just a few weeks after an elementary school shooting – just ten days after a shopping mart shooting – the Supreme Court threw away several court rulings that focused on stricter gun control. These rulings included bans on assault-style rifles in Maryland and large-capacity ammunition in New Jersey and California.

A major driving force for these decisions was the potential violation of the Second Amendment which focuses on a person’s right to “keep and bear arms.” This could be a fair argument, but the U.S. Constitution, written in 1787, did not include the not-yet invented assault rifles, which came in the 1950s.

But the most controversial ruling the Supreme Court made was in overturning Roe v. Wade which grants a woman the right to have an abortion. Since the ruling in 1973, the ruling has since been a major topic of discussion in the Supreme Court, but nothing became of the decision until it was overruled in June 2022.

An opinion by Justice Harry A. Blackmun following the 7-2 ruling emphasized that an opposing ruling would go against the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment where “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

I think this part is interesting because this wording is emphasized in the Declaration of Independence, which permits the unalienable rights of every individual: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

Also, if we’re going to justify actions that put others in harm’s way with the Constitution, we can use the Declaration of Independence as well. 

The Declaration of Independence also goes on to say that if a “form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

In short, this means that if the government is putting its people in a position where their happiness or safety could be in jeopardy, then the government needs to be changed. The people have a right to change it, as supported by the First Amendment.

So what does “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” mean to us as being “unalienable rights?”

This means that no one can take away or infringe upon how we choose to live our life – as long as it does not negatively affect other lives. “Life” means we have a right to our own lives and how we live it, “liberty” means we have a right to make our own choices and “pursuit of happiness” means we have a right to happiness and enjoyment in our lives. The overlying theme of all three of these rights is that what we do cannot hurt someone else or take away their freedoms.

This means, we have a right to own guns, but if we’re using them to shoot elementary school students, that’s infringing on their unalienable rights, meaning change needs to be done in order to protect the rights of the next potential victims.

Furthermore, there’s another declaration that focuses on human rights that isn’t talked about as often as some of the other major U.S. documents. This lesser-known document is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Drafted in December 1948, the document sets out fundamental rights that are to be protected universally.

There are 30 articles to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that protect the rights of all humans no matter who or where you are.

It seems very fishy to me that we can argue points in the Constitution to potentially harm the lives of others, and yet, here are two just as important documents that clearly state you should not do that.

As a citizen of the United States, I’m appalled. I’m disappointed. I’m hurt.

It does not feel like the “land of the free” when the Supreme Court makes decisions that are slowly destroying populations, a government who is barely working to fight for the rights of the people, a right-wing political group that’s sending out thoughts and prayers and a left-wing group that’s begging for money and votes.

How are we as a nation using one U.S. document to justify the acts of others, but fail to remember that we are born with 30 universally protected human rights?

America is a business. The best way to keep the people in power the owners of the business, they need to keep their citizens – their “workers” – under them. The best way to do this is to keep them consuming and making sure they never take the initiative to do more.

We can be taught about the Constitution. We can be taught how to fit into a system of low generational wealth. We can sit in front of our televisions and consume but never question. Or, we can take steps to break out of a system not made for anyone other than the government in this country.

There’s a shortage of independence and freedom today for the millions of people across the country who struggled and crawled to the finish line when others were able to walk. This is only just the beginning.

If anything about this opinion makes you uncomfortable, I’m sure it’s not as uncomfortable about being a 10-year-old who has to carry her rapist’s baby to full term or having your esophagus crushed by someone’s knee.

As the United States of America, we must do better. If we are not united, we are just 50 individual assets of one big corporation.

One response to “OPINION: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

  1. […] OPINION: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness […]


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