My Declaration

By GiGi Sampson

 “ . . . Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!” These aren’t mere words. They are our inalienable rights proclaimed in our beloved Declaration of Independence! I am concerned “we the people” have gotten somewhat off-track with respect to these rights. Is it possible we are evolving from an independent nation of progressive, responsible citizens who once respected life, appreciated liberty and took responsibility to pursue one’s own happiness into a dependent nation of individuals who simply take it all for granted, a society that believes it is ENTITLED to certain privileges? Is anyone entitled to hand outs regardless of misappropriations propagated from selfish actions and poor decisions? Is everyone entitled to have without giving? Do we recognize that the more we accept hand outs, the more we abdicate our liberties? I fear we may be heading down that path, so with great deliberation, determination, and affection, I’ve penned my own declaration. Allow me to share my Declaration of Entitlement!

I hereby proclaim I am entitled to be the best I can be everyday. Let me clarify – I am entitled to choose to work to be the best I can be. Oh, I can settle for mediocrity or rest on past laurels. Or I can sit back and wait for something good to happen to me or for me. But I am NOT entitled to special dispensation because of my attitudes, circumstances, or bad choices. I am NOT entitled to better myself at the expense of another. I am entitled to be the best I can be everyday, as I give my best everyday. In giving my best, I AM my best!

Further, I am entitled to accept responsibility for who, what and where I am in my life. President Truman’s motto “The Buck Stops Here” roars in stark contrast to today’s mantra “It’s not MY fault.” In Andy Andrews’ book “The Traveler’s Gift,” Mr. Truman’s advice to the “Traveler” was – Don’t ask “why me?” Ask “why not me?” After all, my thinking and my choices are what have gotten me where I am. How can I cast blame elsewhere? Like the “Traveler”, I will seek wisdom and be a person of action so I can determine where I made mistakes, learn from them and rectify them. I will NOT relinquish my liberty by expecting someone else to do it for me.

Last, I am entitled to make mistakes. Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living life is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I will stumble; I will fall. I will fail to meet the expectations of others. I will not offer excuses; I will not blame others. I am entitled to make mistakes, to be humble, to forgive and to be forgiven.

Remember when I asked if we realized that in accepting handouts, we abdicate our liberties? I’d like to share a story I believe represents a wonderful illustration of that point. I don’t know the author but the title is “Beware of Friendly Captivity!” It’s the story of two best friends, an eagle and a chicken. They are loving life as they fly around enjoying the freedom of flight, appreciating the glory of the landscape and gathering their food as they need it. One day they fly over a beautiful farm and decide to go down and investigate. They make quick friends with the farm animals and while they are visiting, the farmer brings out food for everyone and they all eat until they are stuffed! They are having so much fun, they decide to spend the night. The next day presents the same scenario, fun and frolic with their new friends, and again the farmer brings enough food to them that they eat until they are filled.

On the 3rd day, the eagle decides it’s time to move on and asks the chicken if he’s ready to leave. The chicken says, “You know, I kind of like it here. Not only do I have the freedom to come and go as I please and enjoy the interaction with my friends, I don’t have to look for and gather my food. My food is brought out and I can eat all I want. So, I think I’ll stick around here for awhile.” The eagle tells the chicken goodbye and assures him he’ll come back to check on him in two weeks. As promised, the eagle returns two weeks later but he cannot find his friend the chicken. It seems the farmer and his wife had guests over the night before . . . and guess what they decided to serve for dinner? You’ve got it – fried chicken! Beware of friendly captivity!

We live in a remarkable country in an amazing time! Let’s not mistake our inalienable rights to mean that the best in life will be given to us or that our way will be made easy! Let’s be like the eagle; let’s respect life, value our freedom and pursue happiness responsibly!

If you have comments or questions for the author, you can email GiGi at .

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