Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day

"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."

And so, for those of us who live in the US, these words from the Declaration of Independence are the cornerstone for our country. It is an important part of our history and of our daily lives. It has been used, misused and abused but it still stands strong.

Monday is July 4th, the day we celebrate our nation's independence. It is a day of picnics, parades and fireworks. Despite the reason behind this day, how often do we take the time to think about why we are really celebrating? I know I seldom do. I take for granted all the benefits, priviledges, and gifts I have that others fought so very hard for.

Rights--our forefathers wrote that we have certain rights, not gifts, not choices or chances but RIGHTS. These rights are for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Notice that they started each with a capital letter; just to make sure it was understood that these rights were important. We have a right to life, a right to liberty and a right to PURSUE happiness. It does not say we have a right to happiness, just the right to pursue it.

I wonder if any of the writers or signers of the Declaration of Independence had RLS? Don't laugh; if 7% of the population has it, then it could be that one of them was a fellow sufferer. I'm sure that even if one or more had it that they were not thinking about it when they wrote this document. But they thought the pursuit of happiness was a right; pretty important suff. So in our pursuit of Happiness, why do we often feel guilty, embarrassed, or whiney when we ask for help with RLS? Many things can and do make us happy. Some we have control of and some we don't. But if each of us could find a doctor who would work with us, medication that would alleviate our suffering and someday soon find a cure--wouldn't we be happy? Wouldn't we be beyond happy?

The pursuit of happiness does not mean we can run roughshod over others to get what we need (or think we need). It doesn't mean we can be nasty, rude, hasty or hurt others to get that happiness. But it does mean that we can go forward in insisting on quality care, new and better medications and a cure without feeling that we don't "deserve" those things. We don't have cancer, we don't have a diseased heart...but we do have a disorder that makes our lives very, very unhappy. We have the right to pursue a good quality of life, a happy life.

I am fortunate that the Foundation, Board of Directors, Medical and Scientific Advisory Boards for RLS are pursuing my rights. That is what they do--fight for our rights to happiness in a world that seldom even notices that we exist. I thank them from the bottom of my heart and hope that you too realize the work they do on our behalf.

The pursuit of Happiness. I hope our independence day comes soon, no matter where we live.

Moon and stars,

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