First, how does Merriam-Webster define the difference? Endow: “to freely or naturally provide (someone or something) with something — usually used as (be) endowed.” Allow: “to permit (someone) to have or do something. He allowed her to leave [=he let her leave].” A person “endowed” is free to stay or leave as they please without interference or the need for permission from another. As indicated above, a person “allowed” is granted permission to leave by another, a permission that can be withdrawn or restricted as the granter deems fit.
Whether you believe in the God of Christianity or not, the Union of American States was built on the single principle that every individual is “naturally provided” with complete freedom and independence by that which gives them life. “…all men are created equal …are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776). Merriam-Webster defines Unalienable as: “impossible to take away or give up.” To those whose cause it is to fight the Judeo-Christian foundation of this country by pointing to the founders who were not “Christian,” what you always forget to mention is that those same founders signed in agreement to this concept. In other words they agreed that “God” or not, life itself gave the individual an irrevocable freedom to live that life as they see fit. The founders then went on to write our governing document, the Constitution and its Bill Of Rights, based on this truth. In order to distinguish the government they were forming from the one they were leaving behind they connected this concept spelled out in the D.O.I. with the Constitution by beginning with this instruction: “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” They wrote these documents to immortalize this Natural Law and to prevent future governments from assuming authority over our “naturally given” freedom and “taking” any part of it away from the citizens of their time or those of their children’s time. Wanting to be clear and recognizing that freedom by its nature is unrestricted they didn’t take 2,700 pages to define it; they kept it simple: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” etc. Notice the wording this collection of men chose. They didn’t say we declare all men free to speak. They acknowledged that by “natural law” they already have that right. What they “declare” is that no government has nor shall take the authority to limit that freedom. They applied this truth to all our rights. They knew that an “endowed” freedom whose exercise is restricted by man is not freedom at all.
It is clear that at our founding we embraced the concept that all people are “Endowed” rights; now let’s see if there is a case that we have become a people “allowed” rights. The logic of the founding documents is quite simple, “life is freedom.” How do you get from “Endowed” to “allowed”? Those assigned to “secure” our freedom would work to restrict it through definition and redefinition. First, we were told they needed to better define these freedoms. “All men are created equal” was not clear enough? So, they defined us, male, female, black, white, tall, short, impaired, etc. Which is more inclusive? Are we more free through these bureaucratic definitions or “All”? In order to “secure” our freedom they defined everything; “equal” was confusing, “life” was too vague, privacy, property, speech–our founders were just not clear enough. So in an effort to further protect our freedoms they redefined the guidelines for how these freedoms could be practiced. They introduced regulatory agencies to assist us to this end. These unelected officials write regulations not voted on by the “Endowed” to further define how our freedoms could be practiced. Of course, we must be motivated to use our freedom responsibly, so fines and penalties are implemented, and, of course, when they conflict with the constitution they’re redefined to be “taxes.”
To their dismay, along the way some of those “Endowed” free began to question all of this clarification. When the founders said “all” didn’t they mean “all”? How is “life” not “life”? Why do those assigned to simply “defend” and “secure” our freedoms as represented by the constitution get to redefine it? They had an answer… or did they? They say the founders could not see all that was to come; therefore, the first law of this country must be viewed as fluid, a “living document” open for the courts to expand, “interpret” and redefine. (Maybe the government does need “life” defined for them; they believe unborn life is not life but a 200 year old document is?) Here is the “or did they?” part. On the heels of that statement they will say that once an issue has been heard by the court and given their definition it is “precedent” and is not fluid, living or open to change. If this is true then how is the constitution itself not precedent? If a decision or judgment made and agreed upon by the majority (millions) of the “Endowed” and that has stood for hundreds of years is not precedent, then how is one made by five unelected individuals that stands for only a few years a precedent? It was this moment when we chose to let this discrepancy go unchallenged that we went from the “Endowed” to the “allowed.” Our freedom was no longer defined by the mere fact that we live, but by the distinctions given by those who govern and how they define them.
The people are now “allowed” their freedoms. We are “allowed” to amend our constitution as long as it is consistent with the courts redefinition and precedent. We are “allowed” property unless the government has a better use for it (eminent domain). We are “allowed” speech unless it offends someone else. We are “allowed” religion unless we have a Bible study in our home or a prayer on public property and as long as our beliefs don’t disagree with certain other beliefs. We are “allowed” to assemble as long as it is in designated zones and with a permit. We are “allowed” privacy unless we use our cell phone, PC or smart TV. We are “allowed” to bear arms as long as it’s in government approved areas with a government license… oh, and as long as we don’t make anyone else uncomfortable. We are “allowed” to keep some of the money we earn. We are “allowed” a career to earn that money as long as it meets the government’s definition of acceptable. We are “allowed” to make a profit in that career and “pursue happiness” as long as it’s under what the government says should make us happy. We are “allowed” to hire and fire who we want to best achieve that profit unless their definition of “equal” says we can’t. We are “allowed” to pay for our healthcare as long as we use the government approved method. We are “allowed” to eat what we want as long as the FDA and Dept. of Agriculture defines it as safe. We are “allowed” to take our life as a solution to a medical issue but not “allowed” to take medications waiting approval by the FDA to try and save it. We are “allowed” to make and drive the cars we want as long as the EPA approves them. We are “allowed” to donate our money unless the IRS doesn’t like the cause. We are “allowed” to educate our children as long as the Dept. of Education approves what we teach and we use approved facilities. We are “allowed” utilities as long as we purchase them from an approved source.
Is this all some big conspiracy theory? Have we really gone from “Endowed” to “allowed”? While people of like minds will work to achieve like ends, this in itself does not equal a conspiracy. Are the politicians and the agenda driven courts to blame? When asked at the end of the constitutional convention, “What does this give us?” Ben Franklin (a short-sighted founder) answered: “A Republic if you can keep it.” George Washington (another short-sighted founder) warned against a political party system saying: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” President Washington was not for a one, two or three party system, but a system that forced a person to stand on their own merits and for the people to support or oppose this person based on these merits. Again, the founder’s belief was that the power and responsibility should remain with the individual who was “Endowed” with it. So, no, it is not the politicians, judges or regulators fault; it is ours. As citizens of this Republic we have surrendered our rights to the very government charged with “securing” them for us. We elect and re-elect those who seek to steal our “Endowment,” or worse, we sit back on the couch and watch those freedoms fade into history and do nothing.
What’s the answer? “…all men are created equal …are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776). Merriam-Webster defines Unalienable as: “impossible to take away or give up.” If we truly believe in “equality” and that life grants us “freedom,” that no man has the right to impede or remove that freedom and finally that these things are unalienable, then they are still ours to reclaim. If on the day we are given life we are completely free, then all man’s rules, definitions and distinctions can do is take away from that freedom.
One last thing. For those who would say I’ve made the case for anarchy, no. I made the case with which the founders charged men, simply protecting the pure freedoms we have the moment life begins. The founders made it easy: “all” men are “equal” and “Endowed” as such. It is understood that if “all” men are “equal” in these “Endowed” rights, then no individual has the right to interfere with the rights of another in “pursuit of their happiness.” If laws and punishment were restricted to these boundaries, then government would return to its role to “secure and defend” and the United States of America would be the Republic intended; one of a people “Endowed” not “allowed.”
© 5/2014 Scott A Caughel