Declaration of Independence
- Published: Sunday, 18 April 2010 03:00
In July 1776, a group of fifty-six men, of whom at least fifty were members of the Masonic fraternity, signed a document that has come to be considered one of the great landmarks in human history. Largely authored by one of the most illumined and literate men of the eighteenth-century, Thomas Jefferson, that document—the Declaration of Independence—established the separation of the American colonies from England on the basis of certain philosophical premises current in the Age of Enlightenment. The significance of the Declaration has been said to lie in the fact that it translated concepts concerning the inherent rights that every human being was presumed to possess, simply by virtue of being human, from the philosophical sphere to the political arena.
The basis of American independence has focused the attention of nations throughout the world on the radical concept on which a democratic nation was first established. For the Theosophical student, this singular event may provide a useful occasion to examine certain correspondences between what may be called a collective intent to achieve national freedom and the stages required for the individual achievement of personal freedom. Students of the esoteric philosophy are inevitably concerned with the question of freedom, a term which may be taken as synonymous with liberation and even with Self-realization. The question of what constitutes true freedom has always engaged the philosophical mind. Philosophers both East and West have attempted to resolve the question of whether or not humans are essentially free. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence, however, did not debate the philosophical issue. They stated, rather, that all people have an inherent right to enjoy liberty and towards that end may establish their own government, which derives its powers from the governed.