As we all embark on our Fourth of July holiday weekend – stuffing our faces with hot dogs and watching fireworks – it’s too easy to forget what we’re celebrating. We don’t remember the truly horrible beginnings of our nation. Specifically, I’m referring to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, those 56 brave men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to give us liberty.
These men weren’t stupid. They knew what would happen by affixing their names on that document. Legend has it that the elegant and oversized “John Hancock” signature wasn’t prominent because Mr. Hancock was vain. Rather, it was a poke in the eye – “Take THAT, King George” – so the monarch could read the name without spectacles.
Whether or not the legend is true, it says something about the signers. In the mists of time and the gloss of hero-worship, it’s easy to forget that the Founding Fathers weren’t declaring independence from a foreign government. They were declaring independence from their own government. By signing that document, they were committing treason during an unforgiving age when treason meant endlessly ugly ways to be tortured, persecuted, or killed.
But they signed because they had a vision of a unique experiment in government: a nation where people were free from the abusive tyranny of kings that marked the age. They were willing to pay the price of liberty with their blood, if necessary.
It is impossible to underscore how radical America was at the time. Many thought the Founding Fathers were fools to give power to the people rather than to a central government. But these guys had a revolutionary concept: Released from having every facet of their lives dictated by authorities, a free people could explode with innovation and creative energy. And so it proved.
The Founding Fathers also knew there were certain things that could never be taken away from the people by the government. These were called Rights (with a capital “R”) and came directly from God. They understood – as people don’t understand today – that rights granted by a government can be taken away by a government; but Rights granted by the Creator can never be taken away. They enshrined these Rights in the founding documents and charged the government with the critical task of safeguarding them.
It’s no accident that America became a beacon of hope for immigrants, a powerhouse of industry and the wealthiest nation on earth.
But true to the warnings in the Declaration of Independence, there arose those people who weren’t satisfied with liberty. The dire combination of power-lust and apathy has ruined many a civilization, and America (it appears) is no exception. We allow schools to mis-educate our children with revisionist history (among much else). The Constitution and Bill of Rights are no longer studied. Since public schools are agents of the United States government, it’s in Washington’s best interest to suppress knowledge of why government should be limited.
In an effort to deprive present and future generations of their cultural inheritance, educators have rewritten history to suit their agenda. Children are taught that rights derive from government, not God (since, of course, God doesn’t exist). And since the government granted those rights, it can take them away. Guns? Who needs guns? The Second Amendment did NOT mean firearms for individuals, you stupid yokels!
And the apathetic populace, lulled into lethargy and indifference by generations of bread and circuses, never learn what they’re missing and how much better freedom is over regulation. “Free” government goodies (food, water, housing, transportation, medical care, education, etc.) destroy peoples’ work ethic, ambition and sense of responsibility. Give people bread (free stuff) and circuses (smartphones, Internet, television) and they’re happy to sit on their butts and watch America burn down around their ears.
Or as one person put it, “Some voters don’t care about freedom as long as the government, at the expense of the taxpayer, takes care of them! These people don’t deserve freedom!”
Interestingly it’s the (legal) immigrants who arrive in America from communist countries who most clearly recognize what the government is doing. I have three foreign-born sisters-in-law, and they understand quite well what happens when people lose their ability to defend themselves, when they lose the ability to freely express their opinions and when every minutia of their lives is dictated by bureaucrats. They also wonder why Americans can’t see the decline that’s happening before their very eyes.
Our food, our water, our homes, our transportation, our businesses, our communication, our education, our money, our children, our health care and just about any other private and individual concern is now (mis)managed to a startling degree by the government. Now answer me this: Was this how the Founding Fathers envisioned America?
Of course not.
When I look at how far this nation has departed from the ideals of the Founding Fathers, it makes me want to weep. When the government – not just the present administration, but most past administrations as well – willfully ignores and actively shreds the restrictions placed on them by the founding documents, I can only conclude it’s purposeful. It’s about power and riches, not freedom and liberty.
The price of liberty was blood. The price of enslavement? Government freebies. Consider this prescient quote attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”
And yet, on this day of celebrating America’s birth, I have hope. If there’s one thing We the People have proven over the last two centuries, it’s that we can be pushed only so far before we push back. There is a groundswell movement of patriots who recognize the evil tactics of our reigning (and I use that word deliberately) government officials for what it is: tyranny.
Maybe, one day, America will be free again. I guess it depends on whether or not people are willing to pay the price of liberty … again.
Meanwhile, the Lewis family celebrated Independence Day here at home with our own modest declarations of independence.
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