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Freedom comes with obligations

On Thursday we celebrate our nation’s independence from Great Britain with the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which includes the following:

“ … 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness …”

With those words, the United States was born and each of us is granted the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is certainly worth celebrating.

Never let us forget, however, that those tenets come with a implicit understanding for each of us to recognize the rights of others.

Without that respect and tolerance for one another, the social contract is void.

Granting our fellow citizens those that respect and tolerance comes with the equally binding social contract that those rights do not infringe on the rights of others and are within the laws of the land.

As we celebrate our independence this week, let’s also be careful.

If alcohol is part of the festivities, drink responsibly and have a designated driver, and if fireworks are part of the equation follow safety guidelines and be careful.

Happy Fourth of July!

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