Some think of our nation's Founding Fathers as giants among mortals, near-divinely inspired wise men who came off the clouds and sloughed off their mortal coil long enough to draft only the most enduring and effective documents of independence and governance ever conceived in all of human history. Others, believe it or not, think of them as violent, anti-government revolutionaries deserving of death, or at least a 3 a.m. SWAT team raid.
The reality, however, is far from what most perceive. If nations are born of God (and they are), these were men who, guided by their Creator and their conscience, did what they thought was right even though they were all probably and quite literally shaking in their boots! After all, the consequences, should they lose, of putting their names to that document would be dire. In the long war that followed that fateful day in 1776, many would indeed suffer horrific tragedy as a result of their signatures on that historic page.
Men who had not only their lives to lose, but their property, their livelihoods and the well-being and lives of their families were willing to fight to establish a new nation, one based not on the tyranny of a king, but of the dignity and liberty of each and every individual. Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1775, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Franklin was surrounded by men of mettle for whom a little security in this short life meant very little compared to a life and the lives of their descendants under tyranny.
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I doubt Mr. Franklin and the other signers could have possibly imagined how far the worm would turn in less than 250 years.
In the 1700s, a history professor named Sir Alex Tytler wrote of the evolution of democracies, "The historical cycle seems to be: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more."
In a nation where almost 50 percent of the people are on some sort of governmental assistance, to say we are past the "dependency" stage is an understatement. Bondage is here with a vengeance, yet most people are still blissfully unaware of the chains that bind them. Today, we are teetering on the edge of financial and moral collapse. Lawlessness reigns supreme, yet the powers-that-be have built a massive surveillance grid to rival anything Orwell ever dreamed of. Sadly, most people are content to sleep, so long as they can watch "American Idol" and the football games are played on time. "Bread and circuses" worked to keep the Roman populace content, and they certainly work today.
These days, anyone willing to go as far as our ancestors did to fight tyranny would be met with much more than a SWAT team visit, and yet in this modern information age it would take far less to turn our nation around. It will, however, require a massive awakening.
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There is a reason the powers-that-be seem to hate God with such a fierce passion. They know, as well as we, the next step after bondage. They know that if the people truly rediscover God, the same God they have gone to such trouble to ban, marginalize and mock, the sleeping giant that awakens would rediscover the meaning of liberty and shake off its chains in nothing short of a millisecond.
This July 4, this Independence Day, let's remember the courage and sacrifice of the brave men who signed the document that severed our ties to British tyranny. However we idolize them, let's also remember that they were mere men and that their spirit, however suppressed, resides somewhere in all of us who love liberty.