Based on much of what we get from the mainstream media today, one would be hard-pressed to comprehend just how particularly remarkable America is in the annals of mankind. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a national model the equivalent of the United States of America.
It is not because the natural resources of America are far more abundant than other countries; the truth is, there are many more abundantly endowed countries. It is also not because our population is large; China and India both have four times the number of people. It is not because America started out wealthy beyond compare; it started as 13 struggling colonies, essentially indentured servants to the Crown of England. Yet, there are few people who can intelligently argue that there is a greater, richer, more influential country in existence today. In a word, America is a great country!
Despite the mainstream media pundits’ endless criticisms, the pontifications of the leftist academicians and the constant belittling by so-called intellectuals, there is a reason for this greatness. One line in the Declaration of Independence, properly understood, gives penetrating insight into the genius of America: “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Respect for the individual is at the heart of this great experiment … our Republic. We employ a democratic process to elect public servants to represent us and do our bidding, and the power belongs not to the governors, but to the governed.
It was envisioned by the founders that those governed would be cognizant of their responsibilities as sovereigns entrusted with their own destiny. They not only initially articulated the rights and privileges accorded the citizenry, but added amendments to correct and address any oversights. America was/is designed to be a work in progress, with the aim of being operated by those who would benefit by their own participation. Included among the rights guaranteed these free moral agents– freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom of assembly – is the right to petition their government for redress should any of these rights be abridged.
I confess, we are not a utopia, but beyond a shadow of doubt, America offers more freedoms to more people than any form of government presently in existence. (Please correct me if I am wrong, but are there queues for members of an “oppressed, maltreated, brutalized” general population trying to get out of America?)
There have been other great experiments in government – the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans and Europeans – and all have experimented with liberty by giving certain classes (nobles, landowners, etc.) a measure of self-determination. Only America has provided for a general self-determination, by allowing the citizenry to elect representatives and choose, via the right to vote, our own fate. These precious American liberties have been won, and maintained, at the cost of great sacrifice and human life. Wars among ourselves and wars against tyrants have all cost lives. According to several records, 648,000 died (more than all other U.S. conflicts combined) in a civil war to ensure these rights were available to all. As has been said, “Freedom is not free” and the price of liberty is “…eternal vigilance.”
There is, today, another battle raging. That battle is against these liberties, and it is not being waged with guns, but with ideas and concepts, and the ideas and concepts that prevail in this struggle have the power to determine the future of America. Unfortunately, deliberately or by negligence, far too many of us have ignored, are ignorant of, or have forgotten that the basis for this amazingly successful experiment in human relations known as America was crafted from and rests upon one of the greatest documents ever written – a document designed not to enslave, but to provide maximum liberty with a minimum of government interference; a document establishing a framework for order that would enable people to freely engage in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; a document that did not guarantee happiness, but the right to the pursuit of happiness. Now assisted by self-serving individuals and bureaucrats, that right is being changed to a guarantee.
Our founding documents clearly articulated the concept of an American republic, not a democracy, which is essentially mob rule (check out the French Revolution). America’s wonderfully unique founding documents are filled with concepts which are found in, and taken from, the greatest document known to mankind; a manuscript that was/is the inspiration for all the writings that set a small disparate group of individuals on a course that would bring their legacy into a position unparalleled in human history.
This manuscript, the source of the revolutionary ideas of the founders, recognizes the incredible potential of man for good, while acknowledging his potential for evil, and provides a just, fair and equitable framework for the free exercise of the one while restraining the other.
Today there are abroad in our land people who would impose a new form of slavery, not with chains and whips, but with legislation and courts. They have deliberately misrepresented this great manuscript and its message, and it is now being presented not as a document that generates and protects, but one that imposes severe restrictions on our individual liberties.
The document of which I speak is the cornerstone of the great American experiment.
This document is above all a book of liberty. The question before us now is, will we continue to live as free moral agents, authorized and empowered by principles that allow us to choose our own destiny, or become the slaves of those among us who would use our own system against us to prevent the American people from remaining sovereigns of our own destiny? Observe Greece, once hailed as being the foundation of Western civilization, torn apart by riots, and Rome, once the mightiest of empires, is now a tourist destination famous primarily for its ruins. Once it was said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” And now?
In 1751, Pennsylvania citizens were allowed to participate in their governance and choose their own religion, not a state religion. The colonists cherished this liberty and when, in 1751, the speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a new bell for the State House, he asked for a statement to be inscribed on the bell; “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof!” May those words be inscribed upon our hearts today, as well! (Incidentally, the bell apparently got the name Liberty Bell from abolitionists who adopted it as their symbol while attempting to outlaw slavery.)
As it hung in the state house, among other things, it rang out at the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. As he left the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly approached by a lady who asked, “Well doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin is said to have replied, “A republic, madame, if you can keep it.”
A republic, indeed, if we can keep it.
Oh, by the way … the statement on the Liberty Bell is from Leviticus 25:10.
The Cornerstone of the American experiment? The basis of all our great founding documents?