Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Citizen's rights go beyond those in constitution

Freedom Editorial

For 228 years now, this nation has celebrated its independence on July 4.

In eastern New Mexico, we began celebrating on Thursday this year with the performance of the military band Tops in Blue.

Muleshoe held its annual parade on Saturday morning with a fireworks show scheduled that night.

Fireworks shows are scheduled tonight in Clovis, Portales, Melrose and Fort Sumner.

Greene Acres Park in Clovis will be a community gathering place for games, food and music, beginning about 5 p.m. today.

We’re all celebrating that summer of 1776, when delegates from the original 13 colonies gathered at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and agreed to sever their ties with Great Britain. They launched a grand political experiment — a government that existed to serve individuals, instead of the other way around.

The most revolutionary idea they presented was the idea that individuals “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” as the revolution’s leaders wrote in the Declaration of Independence.

This is sometimes forgotten even by the citizens of the United States of America. Individuals are not “subjects” whose lives and property belong to a crown, the Declaration’s authors wrote, but free people.

However, too many people today — even some Supreme Court justices — think the only rights we have are enshrined in the Constitution, and if that document doesn’t list a certain right, then it doesn’t exist.

That’s not what the authors meant. The Constitution doesn’t grant any rights — no government or individual can do that — it merely lists some, not all, of the rights inherent in every human being.

At the Clovis News Journal, we try to summarize our nation’s founders’ beliefs every day on this Opinion page:

“This newspaper believes freedom comes not from government but from God, and is consistent with the truths expressed in the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence. Only when men and women freely control themselves and what they produce can they develop fully as human beings.”

It’s the job of government to secure that freedom, to ensure that no one violates our rights. And for more than two centuries, that’s made the United States of America a beacon of freedom around the world.

Of course, the government hasn’t always lived up to the lofty standards expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution. But governments are made up of human beings, each with his or her own imperfections.

Through prejudice, greed or zealotry, the United States has enslaved millions of Africans, wiped out almost the entire native population of North America and oppressed its own citizens on numerous occasions.

Still, the strength of the United States comes from its ability to recognize, even if it’s decades or centuries later, the absolute injustice of such actions.

As a nation, we’re always trying to make ourselves better. We have stumbled along that path of improvement, and we’ll likely falter again in the future, but we strive on toward the ideals on which this country was founded. It’s something worth celebrating.

Finally, we can’t let today pass without acknowledging the men and women at Cannon Air Force Base and throughout our armed forces. The military helped free this nation from the mother country, and through the years members of the armed forces have undergone hardships to protect this nation and what it stands for.

We don’t always agree with how our government uses our military, but no one can doubt the bravery and sacrifice of our troops. So to all the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, thank you for helping guard our freedom.