Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Freedom and liberty: Are they becoming meaningless words?

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail about Independence Day, saying it "will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."

The deliverance Adams referred to was over the tyranny former citizens of England experienced under a government that exercised unlimited taxing power over its countrymen. By suggesting that thanks for escaping this tyranny should be given to God denotes a philosophy our Founding Fathers largely shared that is in complete opposition to many of today's politicians: the belief that certain rights can only come from God, not man.

As our Founding Fathers wrote in the 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...

....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...

...we, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States...

...and 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."

The colonists formed the United States of America to establish the freedoms they lacked in England, and based America's formation on principles rooted in our Creator and the liberty that can only come from Him.

How different things are today as the concepts of liberty and freedom seem to be empty, meaningless notions in a country that increasingly looks to government as the distributor of our rights, rather than our Divine Creator. In the past several decades our government has expanded immeasurably and public schools have spent more time teaching children about the environment, racism, homosexuality and class warfare than they have about America's identity as a nation founded on the freedom that comes from God. Today's students are largely taught that America - the nation that is first to respond to other countries' needs in times of disaster and need, but the last to receive such aid in return - is a country guilty of aggression, greed, and inhumanity. Our own president apologizes for America while visiting other countries.

And, though our Founding Fathers envisioned an America free from the tyranny of oppressive taxation, last week's Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare gave government the right to use taxation as a punishment on Americans who don't behave in a certain way. How far we've come and how far we've fallen - but how much we still have to stand up for in this great country of ours.

The Fourth of July means something that no amount of fireworks can convey. It stands for the fact that America declared independence from the oppression of another country. It celebrates the notion that our country believes in the fundamental freedoms and rights of human beings and that no government has the right to crush the individual spirit. America believes in the individual and the very principles so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence that support the the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

As we face an ever more oppressive government in our own country, this year, maybe we should also let "the 4th" symbolize our refusal to accept such an un-American form of government. But it depends on how many of us still realize the importance of the freedom on which America was founded and it depends on us knowing that liberty cannot be taken for granted. It's worth celebrating and it's worth fighting for. The question is, will we? Let's hope so.

God Bless America and Happy 4th of July!

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