With another Independence Day celebration behind us, I wonder how many people actually celebrated the truth of the holiday as opposed to just another day off.
I wrote this column as we approached the American millennium celebration in December 1999:
As some of the people may recall, the Constitution of the United States begins with these words: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”
Another of the least read, least recognized documents in American public life today (probably second only to the Bible) contains these words:
“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 harass our people, and eat out their substance.
“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 imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.”
“… for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Many will recognize some of the foregoing, but mostly the closing phrase, from the Declaration of Independence, signed July 4, 1776.
It is interesting to note that as we approach the millennium, we find ourselves in almost the exact condition that precipitated a revolution. Re-read the examples leading to their frustration and compare them with our status as a “free” people today. Then consider their commitment to “divine Providence” and “each other.”
There was no “every man for himself” attitude. No concept of the “separation of church and state.” No consideration that the government was imbued with divine power to tax citizens unmercifully, without their consent, or appoint judges who were not cognizant of the morals of the people, or legislatures who would legislate without regard for the impact of the legislation on the people.
America was a gamble, if you will. There were no guarantees, and the people who came here came not for comfort or “safety nets” or legislation for “womb to tomb” provision. They came because they desired the freedom to control their own lives. They became because their existing government was not “of the people, for the people, by the people” but over the people. The result was the stifling of individual freedoms and the crushing of the human spirit, which inevitably causes an apathetic acceptance of the status quo. This creates a class of people who are not willing to rise up in their own defense against injustices and produces an immoral and illegal “design to reduce them under absolute despotism.”
Despotism: An absolute or autocratic, form of government.
Autocratic: Holding unlimited powers of government.
Autocrat: Governs without being subject to restriction, hence one who is invested with or assumes unlimited authority in any relation.”
Those not willing to accept this became the pioneer Americans.
Government, according to the Declaration of Independence, is designed to serve/govern sovereign individuals who are “created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. … that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Consider this observation from another mostly unread document: “… the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve …” (Matthew 21:26-28 NIV).
I wonder from whence cometh the phrase “public servant”?
True freedom comes from within and manifests itself outwardly by the recognition that all men are designed by a Creator to be free from the unjust rule of other men. Ultimate liberty, of course, comes from God: “… Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
I trust you are enjoying the ultimate liberty, and celebrated the true meaning of Independence Day.