A few individuals
We have been working on a book called Share the Inheritance - 27 Bequests of intangible and tangible wealth. Along the way - and a long way it has been - we have discovered people and ideas who have cheered and inspired us. Here are a few of them -
Truth is justice in words and justice is truth in action.
-Anselm (11th century)
He helped to end slavery in England in 1102 at the Council of Westminster when he brought together bishops and abbots. The Council's decision had effect because the Church had the power to excommunicate slavers, thereby rendering their lives and possessions forfeit.
The ground of my freedom
I have a right to all the privileges that do belong to a free man . . . and the ground and foundation of my freedom I build upon the Great Charter of England.
-John Lilburne, speaking to Parliament which had thrown him into prison (1645). The great Charter was Magna Carta. Lilburne was freed by a jury which rejected Parliament's oppression. Londoners celebrated with bonfires.
By nature equal
All men and women since Adam and Eve are . . . by nature all equal and alike in power, dignity, authority, and majesty . . .
-John Lilburne (1647) His pugnacity gave life to his ideals which influenced the British Bill of Rights, the American Declaration of Independence and the US Bill of Rights.
Ye are Englishmen!
Ye are Englishmen. . . give not away your right!
-William Penn (1670) at his trial as he attempted to defend freedom of association and freedom of conscience.
Nor will we ever!
-William Penn's jurors, as they marched out of the courtroom. They refused to return a sentence of guilty even when thrown into prison. They helped to establish the freedom of juries to protect men and women against unjust laws.
Share our burdens
That the most important and valuable part of the British constitution, upon which its very existence depends, is the fundamental principle of the people’s being governed by no laws to which they have not given their consent, by representatives freely chosen by themselves who are affected by the laws they enact equally with their constituents, to whom they are accountable, and whose burthens they share, in which consists the safety and happiness of the community . . .
-Fairfax County, Virginia, 1774
Isn't this basic to our lives today - that members of a Parliament or Congress be affected by the laws they enact just as we are and that they share our burdens? Does anyone believe they are sharing our burdens today?
Bad news and good
The bad news - A study of the people we have mentioned shows that their lives could be quite difficult.
The good news - They did make life better for Brits and Americans and many other people.
In 1994, the Prime Minister of India left a plaque at Runnymede that reads - As a tribute to historic Magna Carta, a source of inspiration throughout the world, and as an affirmation of the values of Freedom, Democracy and the Rule of Law which the People of India cherish and have enshrined in their Constitution.