If you’re looking for optimism for this country, you have to look no further than the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.
The Fourth of July certainly stirs patriotic feelings in most of us. First of all, virtually all Americans consider themselves fortunate to have been born in, or immigrated to, this country. And grounding it all is that one powerful sentence in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” If you are looking for optimism for this country, you have to look no further than that statement, and to all those who have sacrificed for, and still believe in, those principles.
Sadly, I received no fewer than six newsletters this week with articles pointing out examples of how this country seems to be willfully abandoning those hallowed principles. The articles contend that our nation is shifting from independence to dependence; and that we’re going bankrupt, both spiritually and financially. They also argue we’re willingly giving up liberty for security and, as a result, will end up with neither.
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These critics may be right in the financial sense, as our federal government is more than $17.5 trillion in debt and continuing to add to that debit at a historic and astounding rate. And that figure doesn’t even include the unfunded liabilities and countless promises we’ll be unable to keep.
Spiritually, I want to believe that we’re not that far gone, that the values that made this country great are still held by the vast majority of people. However, in reading the postmortem commentary on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case, it’s obvious that many of our intellectual elite don’t believe in freedom of religion. In fact, they don’t believe that religion is, or even can be, a positive force in our society.
Even President Obama made it clear this week that he doesn’t believe in the deliberative legislative process or the system that our founders created to keep the executive branch from growing too powerful. And even after a string of a dozen decisions by the highest court that halted his executive overreach, he proudly pronounced that he would continue to circumvent the Congress and act on his own, daring the opposition to sue him. While the statement polled well, it’s amazing that a President of the United States would ever make that kind of statement, let alone have it be universally accepted.
That, though, is perhaps the beauty of the Fourth of July, as it’s a celebration of our independence and of our values. It’s also a reminder to all that what makes America great is that we have continually been willing to fight for and maintain those values. And that’s despite that those values seem to run contrary to the natural tendencies of a government and intellectual elite who seek to rule over the masses.
It’s said that the U.S. is an anomaly in the course of human history, and that we are an experiment destined to fail. They argue that people ultimately will seek security (even if it’s false security) over liberty, and government will always strive to take liberty and freedom in its quest for power.
America has, and I believe always will, rise to the occasion. Perhaps the revolution we are called to fight in involves standing up and fighting in the battleground of ideas and principles.
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