Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Battle for our Continued Revolution
On the 4th day of July in the summer of 1776, two days after formally approving a resolution recognizing the independence of the American Colonies from the empire of Great Britain, the Second Continental Congress gave its approval to a document explaining their recent decision—the Declaration of Independence. It was on July 2 that independence was declared, but it was on July 4th, 1776, that fifty-six brave men would begin the process of putting their names to the Revolution by signing the Declaration of Independence in open defiance to the tyrant King George and in open obedience to the cause of liberty. These men knew what was on the line—death in capture or failure, but liberty if successful. Some met this death, but all helped give our nation and the freedom it stands for life.
A little over two centuries have passed since our nation was founded, but our departure from the ideas of the Founding makes it seem much farther away. There has been much change in this short time. Some of this change has been good; some has not. What’s for sure is that good change involves our willingness to actually come closer to the ideals of our Founding. (For example, actually adhering to the belief that “all Men are created equal.”) Sadly, some change has been our willingness to betray the Revolution and move toward more infringement on our “certain unalienable rights.”
When we look at the Declaration we see many of our Founder’s petitions against the Crown reflected in our current state, but we need not go line-by-line to see how far we have erred in carrying out the American experiment. We can look at the over arching themes of the Revolution, and see that we have cast off one set of chains for another.
More than over taxation the Revolution was about casting off big centralized government for a maximization of individual liberty. It was also about a free people’s right to self-rule. But most of all when we look at our nation’s Founding we see a conflict over consent of the governed. Do people govern themselves or are they governed by others? And if others are given positions of governing authority is their power limitless or are they bound by a covenant? The Revolution was about all matters of liberty, but it gained its support by appealing to the people and showing that Britain was guilty of covenant violation. (Read the text of the Declaration and you will see that this is the case.)
Today we are in the midst of a similar battle. A covenant has been continually violated—our Constitution. And like in the Revolutionary period there are those who protest in the name of liberty, others who stand by the side of tyrants—either confused or in willing disregard for freedom, and still others who may sympathize with the cause but fear action.
I am not calling for a bloody revolution, though I am calling for revolution. And I am not calling for a new nation, though we should hold to the ideals of when this nation was new. My plea is simply for every patriot to burn inside with a passion for liberty, a passion for our inalienable rights, and a passion for our Revolutionary documents—the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
What I desire is a return to the ideas of our Fathers. We as a nation have become imperial tyrants. We have become what our Founders fought against. We praise them with our words, but damn them with our actions. Woe to you oh America! Woe to us!
Is there hope? Well…hope always seemed lacking as our young nation sought to establish itself and shake of the chains of tyranny, but we made it. We defeated tyranny because we stood up for freedom. If we see the error of our ways, turn our eyes toward liberty, and pursue what is right and just, then hope can triumph. Freedom can win. And America can be a shining city on a hill, a beacon of liberty, and what our Founders struggled to establish.
In conclusion, those of us who love history not only celebrate our nation’s independence on July 4th, but we also remember John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who died July 4, 1826 mere hours apart. These men were political rivals, bitter enemies, and dear friends. But, despite their differences, both of these men deeply desired the success of our Revolution, before and after the battles had been won. Both believed what many now forsake. Hopefully, we will not betray them.
Adams, not knowing of Jefferson death a few states away, said his last words on the fourth of July: “Jefferson lives!”
If we do not change our ways and if we continue to betray the principles of our Founding, Jefferson will not only be removed from us in body. His ideas contained in our Freedom documents and the Revolution for which he gave of himself will live no more.
I will not stand for this. I will stand for freedom. I will stand for the principles of our Revolution. Will you stand with me?