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    Health and the Declaration of Independence

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | July 3rd, 2016

    Health and the Declaration of Independence

    In honor of Independence Day, I thought I should read the Declaration of Independence. It is considered the birth certificate of the United States. The document was written in 1776 to King George III in response to how Britain was treating the thirteen colonies at that time. The signers of the document listed their grievances and then declared 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…’ What a bold move.

    I know you are probably asking yourself what does this have to do with health. You were not expecting a history lesson. However, I would like to discuss another part of the Declaration of Independence – the start of the second paragraph:

    ‘…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…’

    This can be interpreted in so many ways and there have been constant debates on what the men in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 meant by that statement. Although they were not thinking about health at that time but on how a government should run, I think that we can look at it from a health perspective. It comes down to freedom and choices.

    Life – We have been given this one life to live. Although we are created equally, not everyone is given the same opportunities. I know that health care disparity is real; however, we must strive to take advantage of what we do have.

    Liberty – We have the freedom to choose what we want to do – do I exercise or not? Do I smoke or not? Do I have this surgery or not? Do I choose to eat a certain food or not? We ultimately have to make the decision. This is where education is so important. We must strive to be educated on issues regarding health so that we can make an informed decision.

    Pursuit of happiness – We all have the right to be happy, but again that comes from each of us. We have to strive not to make our happiness dependent on another person. We are ultimately responsible for our happiness.

    Happy Independence Day! Enjoy the week.

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