Friday, December 24, 2010

Rights vs. Duty or A party to celebrate Itsenäisyyspäivä!

Today is Christmas Eve! I am finally sitting still with my computer on my lap. Advent has flown by leaving us all full of butter and little stunned.

Chris and I ushered in the holiday season with our first ever Finnish Independence Day Party. 60 people gathered to help us celebrate the 93rd birthday of Finland. Once the party was underway, I was too busy to take pictures. The pictures above show some of our preparations. Mari sent me candles, napkins, and chocolates. We had plenty of champagne, but the Finlandia vodka went quickly. The Finnish meatballs were a huge hit.

Towards the end of the party we all gathered for a toast to Finland and Chris commented on some of the marked differences between our own Declaration of Independence and the Finnish Declaration.

Felice and I read the US Declaration of Independence every 4th of July while swatting mosquitoes and waiting for the fireworks to start. Once you get beyond the heart stirring talk of self evident truths, the laundry list of complaints against King George begins and goes on and on. It could be considered whiny if you weren't feeling particularly patriotic:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such disolutions, 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 dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass [sic] our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us :
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
The Finnish Declaration of Independence is an altogether different document. Rather than stressing their rights, the Finns stressed their duty.

The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfill their national and international duty without complete sovereignty.

But I have a firm appreciation for the American Declaration of Independence as well. One of my gifts to myself is "And the Pursuit of Happiness" by Maira Kalman. I can't wait to sit down and enjoy this book. The pictures are lovely. You can read her blog here and watch a video about this book below.

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