Meghan Cox writes at NRO:
[T]he Francophone pachyderm is riding on his mother's back when a hunter shoots her. Babar runs away in terror to a Mediterranean city, where he is drawn up short by the sight of two gentlemen: 'Really, they are very well dressed,' Babar says to himself, 'I would like to have some fine clothes, too! I wonder how I can get them?'She is indeed right about it. It is out of the peril of forgetting this fact that all modern errors arise. Men have become accustomed to think of themselves as bankers, or lawyers, or accountants. What dignity has any of those, excepting the lawyer, who at least can claim a kinsman in Burnt Njal? No better dignity than their profession, which is to say, a dignity that is at the mercy of fate, now high and now low. Enron did more to lay low the accountant than a plague could do to lay low man.
This bizarre Gallic reasoning -- Your mother died today, or was it yesterday? You need new clothes! -- comports perfectly with Violet's world view. No matter what we read, however terrifying Hansel and Gretel's predicament, however ferocious the Beast when he arrests Beauty's father, what Violet wants most is for everyone to look good. Older men are 'kings,' younger men are 'princes,' and all females, unless obviously witches, are 'princesses.' She may be right about this. Certainly she exudes more respect for me when I am wearing a dress.
The real dignity of man is in being Man. As a child he is a wonder; as a man, a terror. As an elder, he is the repository of wisdom in the world. Books contain much, but only living wisdom is active in shaping the events of the day. Even in America, where Youth is worshipped, it is the old that move the world.
It is wise to consider every man you meet a Prince or a King. This is only to say that you ought to treat them with the fullest respect that might be due to a man of their age; and, if they do not live up to that duty, to scorn them accordingly. This is especially true of Americans, for in casting off ranks of nobility, we have made the free American citizen the equal of anyone. He ought to act like it.
This is what is meant by 'endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.' It means that the dignity of Man is in being Man. Upholding that principle is the foundation of Classical Liberalism, and the rock upon which the Constitution is built. The child has spoken wisely, as children do.