Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reading a Snippet of a Declaration

Each year, lawyers from around the State of Texas (and now the country) gather outside of their local courthouses and read the Declaration of Independence. Robert Flickman, a prominent criminal deffense attorney started the tradition several years ago in Houston and the event has steadily grown and spread. At noon on the day of the reading, lawyers participating each read a portion of the document.

Shane Phelps organizes the event in Brazos County.

Reading the Declaration aloud drives home it's vigor. It takes about 20 minutes. The document begins with a statement of beliefs ("We hold these truths to be self-evident..."), then goes on to give specific, particular ways they have been violated. Not some generalized complaint, but specific, itemized expressions of how solidarity with these self truths had been breached.

This year my portion of the reading was 53 words.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions [of legislative bodies], to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the danger of invasion from without, and the convulsions within. 
53 out of 1137 words in the document. But READ these 53 words!

They declare that even when the Crown of Great Britain dissolved American representative bodies, the end sought was not accomplished. Instead, because the powers to legislate are "incapable of Annihilation" they reverted back to those who elected the dissolved bodies in the first place - the People. The last clause, with razor sharp language, declares refusal to allow elections places the State in danger. Danger from without - invasion - and "[from] the convulsions within."

What great imagery those words express. We are still convulsing within, are we not? Over the span of almost two and half centuries, the language still soars - and resonates.

Happy Independence Day, all!


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