As a child, I can remember hearing the phrase, "...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". After years of pondering the meaning of these words. Life and liberty are fairly self-explanatory. Yet, what is this pursuit of happiness?
What should have been easily explained by my impressors, was surely to be a lesson of life. Many ears were bent to my endless obsessions with such questions, supposedly unpertaining to the mind of a child. No satisfactory answers were ever given in this regard.
Such a simple matter of words, why wasn't there an answer? Later, I would find out that most adults and teachers just didn't know the answer. When they would try to answer, it would be vague and similar to an explanation of pure happiness. The answer, although not quite fulfilling, was an underlying fact on the matter.
In my wanton hobby of reading any book set to my hand, I came across the
Second Treatise, written by John Locke. In his writings Locke theorizes the basis of natural rights and social order in the dealings of politics. He showed reasoning for the formation and founding of states to commit to social order. With the inherent natural rights, the political notion of such state is founded. He had shown property to be the interest and aspiration, thus material goods being acquired through labor. Through this we have derived the precedence of property over government. Therefore, government cannot unreasonably attach or dispose of citizens' property.
This pursuit can be linked to many aspects of early American values. In 1776, George Mason wrote in his articles of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
"That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
Just one man's opinion, yet I believe that the answer has been found. Or, has it found me? A question that could have been answered quite simply, turned out to be a quest. I use this experience as a reminder when my children ask me questions. The question may seem quite unimportant, yet it needs an answer. That simple answer may be the answer to the future. Take the time and talk to those inquiring minds.
In closing, I would like to leave these words to ponder.
"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."--United States Declaration of Independence, Second Continental Congress, July 4 1776.