“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 is probably one of the most well-known quotes in the United States. Why? This quote is directly derived from the Declaration of Independence. If we break it down, basically it’s saying, “This does not have to be explained, all men are created equal and they are provided with rights by their Creator that can not be taken away, and they are: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our Founding Fathers believed this so much that they went to war and created a new country based on these principles. Isn’t it sad that we’re not even following them?
Thomas Jefferson is credited for writing the Declaration of Independence, but this specific quote, the most well-known, was actually first written by John Locke. John Locke was a very intelligent English philosopher and Enlightenment Thinker. In The Second Treatise of Civil Government, Locke says, “no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.” Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers of the United States., looked up to and respected Locke, as well as other Enlightenment thinkers, so Jefferson wanted to use a bit of Locke’s ideas. It’s what led him to want to start this revolution and declare his independence. So besides copyright issues, why did Jefferson say we all have the “right to the pursuit of happiness”? What even is the pursuit of happiness?
I want to focus in on that. They added the Pursuit of Happiness in, so it must be important. Think of pursuit as a mission, because that’s basically what it is. The pursuit of happiness is your journey to become happy. You deserve happiness, I truly believe that. And I am so thankful that each one of us gets to experience our pursuit of happiness. It’s a journey. We view happiness usually as one thing or position, but I want you to imagine this scenario and see if it changes your view a little bit.
Imagine you're walking down a pretty much never ending, long road. You've been told this road leads to happiness, so you decide to spend your whole life trying to get there. As you walk along the road, desiring for the end to come, you notice someone walking beside you. You learn their story and why they're on this road. You become friends and you realize you don't want to go down this road and experience happiness wihout them by your side. You get lost a few times, and then find your way back. You meet some more people, have a little bon fire, then keep on walking. Eventually you forget where you’re going, because it isn’t all about how perfect everything is going or reaching the ideal perfect life, it's all about what road you get on and what you do on the way. I feel like sometimes happiness is like a thing that we believe will be perfect and we desire it so much, but in actuality, happiness is not a position in life or a feeling we get, it’s a lifestyle. You’re happy because you’re free.
To be happy is not the reason you were created. You were created to worship God and proclaim the Gospel, and when that is your mission, something that strong and powerful, you realize that happiness is a gift that God has given you. So to get back to the whole point of this post, the pursuit of happiness is your journey to captivate joy. This Right aligns perfectly with freedom, because before the U.S. became independent, we were bonded to someone else’s version of happiness, and told exactly what happiness was, but now, we’re free. You can live a happy life, doing what you love, and following God with your whole heart.
I want you to live a life where the journey you are taking becomes why you have joy. You usually can’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. When you live a life pursuing what makes us happy, you’ll be a whole lot happier than you would be otherwise. Thankfully, we don’t have to follow someone else’s version of happiness, we can experience it for ourselves.