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    The Declaration of Independence in 2020

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 28th, 2020

    The Declaration of Independence in 2020

    Since I will be working on the Fourth of July weekend, I decided to do my ritual earlier. I once again read the Declaration of Independence. I wonder what was going on in the minds of those men in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. How far in the future did they think about this new United States of America?    

    The Declaration of Independence 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…’ Their grievances could be summarized in one sentence – they were tired of being oppressed.

    In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, they defined why one should not be oppressed –‘…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…’ I have recently been thinking about this in the context of health and what it means in 2020 in light of all the recent events.

    All men are created equal – Each one of us is created by a sperm meeting an egg to be fertilized regardless of our color, race, or ethnicity.

    Unalienable Rights – There are basic rights that should not be taken away or denied a human being. Although health care was not listed, health care is a basic right. Everyone deserves to have access to health care.

    Life – We have been given this one life to live. No one has the right to take that away. Health care disparity is real. Black lives matter.

    Liberty – Although we have the freedom to do to what we want to do, I am reminded of my father’s saying – “one man’s freedom ends where another man’s begins”. Yes, we have the right to decide to exercise or not. We have the right to take our medication or not. We have the right to choose what we would like to eat. However, if we look at the issue of wearing a mask, when not wearing a mask affects another person’s life and health, then we have to think again. We need to be proactive in educating ourselves so that we can make informed decisions.

    Pursuit of happiness – We all have the right to be happy.  We have to strive not to make our happiness dependent on another person. We are ultimately responsible for our happiness.

    I hope you have a Happy Independence Day.

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