240 Years Behind the Times

I’m not writing this from my experience as an executive.  And I’m certainly no social justice crusader, nor am I an expert on the politics of our societal machinations.   And I don’t play any of those roles on TV.  I’m just a simple guy with a healthy dose of common-sense in my DNA.

So, absent expert credentials, I’ll defer to Thomas Jefferson – the most gifted writer of his time (and perhaps of all-time) – and the man widely known as the wordsmith of the Declaration of Independence, including the most widely-quoted and expertly-written passage of that world-changing document:

“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”.

That portion of the Jefferson-authored preamble may have been inspired by the legendary John Locke, who wrote that “the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness”.

Words that ring true in any time, and for any generation. And they were written more than 240 years ago.

Which brings me to my puzzler:

If it was good and right and pure social policy for the founding fathers of this great Republic to include this “self-evident” (read: OBVIOUS!) declaration about personal Happiness in a document of such massive importance to them (and each of us)….

How is it possible that our social interactions have regressed to the point of having so much theological debate (and moral heartburn) over a group of our friends, family members, co-workers and fellow-citizens who want nothing more than to carefully and constantly pursue their own, personal true and solid happiness?  Are we suddenly a Theocracy – where only one version of social morals is accepted?

Life, Liberty and Happiness are not just for people who live the way your pastor wants them to live – or for people who behave in a way that doesn’t cause you and your priest to squirm.

Those three declarations are for every law-abiding citizen in our society – EVERY FREAKING ONE – or they should be for no one.

If we are too weak-minded and broken here at home to universally support this most basic right for our own citizens, how can we present ourselves as the leaders of the free-world?

Bruce Martin
About the author: 

Bruce Martin is the President of Broad & Pattison, Inc., the leading management recruiting and executive search firm serving the U.S. automotive industry.  His career includes executive assignments with DaimlerChrysler, GE Capital and Adecco, NA.

Mr. Martin is a member of the Board of Directors for Community Career Center, a NFP based in Naperville, IL.  Follow Bruce on Twitter and LinkedIn