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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness… 
In That Exact Order

08/11/2005

Senator Rick Santorum's new book, It Takes A Family, eloquently examines the disorder of the pro-abortion position

The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence contains one of the most foundational concepts of a free society.

"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."
While much focus is given to the latter two notions, that of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we must recognize that they cannot properly exist outside of the context of the entire declaration. In fact, I believe that they are secondary and subservient to the other truths established in this clause.

Senator Rick Santorum asserts in his book, It Takes a Family, that these three rights were purposely penned in that order: life, then liberty, and, finally, the pursuit of happiness. Without life, one cannot experience liberty; without liberty, one cannot pursue happiness. When one's pursuit of happiness impinges upon another one's liberty, then that pursuit must cease. When one's liberty threatens another's life, then that liberty must end.

When these things are out of order, a society begins to break down. We see examples of this every day. A teenager's freedom to listen to loud music in his or her car becomes a public nuisance when it disrupts a family's ability to sleep at night. A company's right to manufacture goods becomes a crime when it disallows the workers' efforts to earn a good wage under fair terms and in decent conditions. A man's pursuit of sexual satisfaction becomes rape when he disregards the free will of a woman.

In short, you cannot pursue happiness at the expense of my liberty and I cannot exercise my liberties if it threatens or degrades your life.

Nowhere is this "out of order"-ness more apparent than in the debate over abortion. The abortion advocates' pursuit of happiness overshadows and unborn child's freedom to develop. The so-called "right to choose" supersedes the very right to exist. The fetus in the womb -- one that is both human and alive, thereby a legitimate "human life" -- has lost the most basic rights outlined by our founding fathers because we have allowed our thinking to become backwards.

"Liberty or choice and happiness are highly valued rights, and I know that unplanned pregnancies can be life altering and traumatic," Santorum asserts in his book, "but they do not trump the foundational right to life given us by our Creator and made evident to us by reason. This was tried once before in America, when the liberty and happiness rights of the slaveholder were put over the life and liberty rights of the slave. But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave."

Before we can even discuss one's happiness, we must secure liberty for all; and before we can ensure one's liberty, we must value everyone's life.

One would think that this truth would be "self-evident," as our founders wrote. So what would cause such disorder in our society? I believe that the answer lies in the words preceding the "life, liberty and happiness" clause.

It states that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…." Yet, while we seek to protect our rights, a portion of our society simultaneously works to deny the existence or involvement of a Creator. This is like trying to row a boat across a lake with each hand pushing an oar in opposite directions. Instead of getting anywhere, the boat only goes in circles.

In order to pursue happiness, a foundation of liberty must be established. But the prerequisite of true freedom is a notion that every human life is important. And an actual appreciation of life can only come when we understand that life itself is a gift from God. If you have a high regard for the protections and guarantees that the Constitution established, you must also respect the beliefs of our founders and the principles that inspired them to conceive this great document. Until these truths are understood and recognized, we will continue to suffer the consequences of disorder.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 700

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at loi.org

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.