Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

So the Fourth again, when we are called to watch parades, grill burgers, suck on beer, and reflect on fireworks.

Or maybe reconcile the Declaration with Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.

We'll skip the 'right to life' portion of this excellent essay for the sake of time--you want to get to the grilling and drinking part of the day, right?

Here's that 'pursuit of happiness' thing, explained:

...But humans live so that they may attain happiness. Thus, humans have a right to act in that most human way, to grow in wisdom and love. That is, since the goal of human existence lies in the exercise of reason and will, we have a right to be able to develop our intellect by growing in knowledge of truth and to perfect the will’s love of the good by delighting in the goodness of creation. It is clear, though, that for man to flourish in this way there needs to be more specific rights enabling the use of reason and will. Since knowledge grows through conversing with others, and love grows through friendship, these other rights focus on the necessary relations man has to others. Unlike so many of our contemporaries, however, who demand rights that reflect our random preferences, we can look to the Decalogue for guidance to know what humans really need. So, for example, there is a right to freedom of religion so we can know that God is in whom our ultimate happiness lies. Also, one needs a stable society in which peace is secured and justice protected, so there are authorities who have the right to be obeyed when deciding for the common good. In addition, a person has a right to a private family life as the first school of virtue, and so the sanctity of marriage must be protected. There are also rights to private property, so that one can attain maturity and independence by exercising stewardship. And if we are to grow in wisdom, there is a right to truthful communication with other people. In this way, as St. John Paul argued in Veritatis Splendor, the Decalogue indicates those rules that must be observed if we are to gain the happiness we all desire....

The imminent retirement of "Justice" Kennedy leaps to mind.

Moving on, we have this "liberty" thing...

...the peculiar power by which a human being attains his end is through proper use of his reason and free will; it is through this potential that we achieve happiness. But reason and will are the source of human freedom, because we can know reality objectively and judge what ought to be done. So, while animals act on instinct alone, human beings have to exercise deliberative judgment. This choice is “right” if it conforms to the reality of human nature by maximizing wisdom and love, and wrong inasmuch as it departs from attaining wisdom and love. Liberty, then, is an ordered freedom, an exercise of choice for the sake of an objective notion of happiness....

So.  After all that....

...If we take up the public argument required of every civilized people, we can restore the true meaning of these rights. To do so, we need only remember the most basic axiom of Thomistic philosophy: action follows from being. By attending to this, we can protect life in its entirety, and define liberty and happiness according to the truth of human nature, thereby securing the common good longed for by those who first founded the United States in the name of universal human rights.

Another perspective which re-inforces the above was given us by Coolidge (courtesy PowerLine):

 ...It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers....

Why do I keep thinking of SCOTUS' malefactions when I read that sort of stuff??

It is not yet necessary to 'argue' the case by schmeissing those who favor disordered liberties.  We are not Venezuela.  Yet.

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