Enough of fireworks and flags and everything red, white, and blue. We Americans need another Declaration of Independence. Yet first we must remember why the first one was written.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day in these United States of America. The neighbors’ next door invited us over for a cookout and some fireworks in the evening. Our children wore patriotic red, white, and blue shirts and shorts, and ate popsicles of the same colors for dessert after their dinner of grilled hot dogs and watermelon. It made for adorable pictures. But why? Why did we get together?
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m glad we had an excuse to get together with the neighbors. I’m glad the children made happy memories.
All the same, it frustrates me that we simply don’t appreciate the significance of this holiday anymore. Cookouts and fireworks and everything done up in patriotic colors – it’s all well and good and fun. But it’s all just trappings. We’ve forgotten the substance of why we celebrate this day every year. That, quite honestly, makes this national holiday sad rather than happy to me.
What does the Fourth of July mean anyway?
July 4th, 1776 was the day thirteen British colonies joined together to declare themselves free of the British crown. We need to comprehend just how big a step that was at the time.
America has enjoyed global superpower status since before my father was born, so it’s difficult in our day imagining a time when this nation was a mere fledgling upstart on the world scene. Yet that’s what America was on its first Independence Day 240 years ago: a mere tributary of the real global superpower of its day, the British Empire.
How did the colonials ever imagine they could oppose the might and majesty of the crown’s battle-hardened redcoats or its impressive fleet of world-class warships? The decision to face off against such an army and navy must have struck undecided voters as suicidal and reckless in the extreme, even if they did agree with the reasons for igniting conflict in the first place.
Today it’s common for red-blooded Americans like me to take it as a foregone conclusion that we would’ve sided with the men now widely regarded as heroes. But would we have? I’m not so sure.
What would we have really done had we been alive during the American Revolution? True, we might have fought on the side of Washington, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson. Yet if we’re honest, we also might have opposed them and sided with the Loyalists in order to save our necks and preserve the status quo. Or, more likely still, we would have tried to stay out of the conflict entirely, especially in its early days. Really now, politics is such an ugly and messy affair. We wouldn’t want to alienate our friends and family now, would we?
It’s as overly simplistic as it is untrue to suppose all the colonists were in favor of American independence back in 1776. Many wanted to remain a part of the British Empire and loathed the struggle to break ties with King George III. Many actively worked with his majesty’s agents to thwart the Revolution and aided efforts at stamping it out. In addition to fears of moral and physical danger, Loyalists were reluctant to give up very real benefits afforded their colonies by a connection to the economic and military powerhouse that was the British Empire.
In truth, many colonists were loyal to the British crown because they enjoyed depending on it. They saw King George III’s empire as imminently dependable, and the colonial relationship with his majesty as exceedingly beneficial to them and their kin. Why would anyone want to declare independence from the British?
Well, in a word: freedom. Liberty – they wanted liberty and self-government more than perks and protection.
Before ‘Brexit’ there was the American War of Independence.
No doubt Americans of George Washington’s generation would have recognized the arguments recently employed both for and against Brexit, the United Kingdom’s highly contested vote last month to leave the European Union. The Leave voters have said the EU was too intrusive and didn’t respected the traditions and values of the UK. Meanwhile the Stay voters said the EU’s economic and political benefits to the people of the UK and the rest of Europe far outweighed the loss of national identity and autonomy.
What’s more, appeals have been made to preserving 70 years of tradition. Close economic ties between European nations have since the end of WWII greatly reduced the likelihood of another armed conflict in Europe. These ties have also encouraged trade and commerce across borders which has unquestionably benefited the peoples of all these nations.
Put simply, there are and have been real and tangible benefits to the UK being a part of the EU. As ‘experts’ warned, the vote for Brexit has indeed given up these benefits to the disappointment of many who enjoyed them. And yet many of the experts have gone too far in their dire warnings of catastrophe. As the example of independent America proved in the past 240 years, severing ties with a larger and more powerful political organization doesn’t guarantee even one failed state, much-less a toppling of the entire global economy.
After George Washington’s armies defeated the British forces, thereby forcing them to recognize the United States as free and self-governing, America gradually expanded from the original 13 states to a current total of 50. Settlers moved westward to California and south to Texas. States rich in natural resources like my native Montana now form an agreeable northern boundary with the descendants of old Loyalists in Canada. The U.S. acquired Alaska and Hawaii besides these, spacious and remote lands rich in beauty and natural resources. It was through the development and harvesting of these resources that the United States of America was able to build its economy and military to unprecedented heights.
America has not only held her own against foreign threats since declaring independence in 1776, she also saved not only the UK and Europe, but much of the rest of the world besides in two successive World Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century. After that she won a decades-long Cold War with the Soviets in which she prevented Russia from conquering the world for Communism.
Considering these things, the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 did not cripple America to say the least. Rather it liberated her. Like a potted plant at risk of becoming root-bound until it was planted in unconstrained earth, America freed herself from Britain so she could become a truly great nation in her own right.
Granted, America in 1776 was a very different place than is the United Kingdom in 2016. Nevertheless, it’s reasonable to conclude that the reassertion of national sovereignty by the United Kingdom in our day need not cripple the modern peoples of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Rather, those peoples are now free to become great again. Brexit isn’t the end of the UK, but is rather the re-emergence of an individual nation asserting its own interests and values so that it can pursue those freely and independently.
Individuals within a nation will naturally prefer freedom and independence for themselves; it follows that they’ll want their nations to be free and independent as well.
We ought to prefer our own independent values and interests, and be free to pursue them. This is the essence of liberty and self-government. As the nation goes, so goes the individual. As individuals within a nation go, so goes the nation.
When nations drown their identities and interests in a sea of globalism and collectivism, you can be sure their people are being compelled to do likewise to an even greater extent. When that happens, those individual people suffer from a loss of liberty and become slaves to vague notions like “the greater good” and “the good of society.” For being distant and undefined and untestable, these reasons for incessant bureaucratic meddling and nitpicking and over-regulating and overtaxing are also inflexible and impossible to evade or contradict; they are a noose around the neck of freedom which only ever tightens and never loosens.
Let’s remember that it wasn’t for the sake of globalism or collectivism or socialism that the Americans of George Washington’s generation declared themselves a free and independent people. It was for the sake of protecting individual rights and freedoms. These are what they recognized as “the greater good.”
It was for the sake of obedient consciences informed principally by the truth and justice of God’s Word. It was for the sake of being free to live according to individual consciences that the colonies fought against the superior arms and discipline of the British Empire. Despite the risk of being shot or blown to bits or imprisoned or hung from gallows for supposed treachery to a distant and aloof king, our nation’s forefathers conspired together to fight for justice and self-determination against impossible odds.
“Give me liberty or give me death,” said Patrick Henry. The phrase was not “give me free healthcare and education, Social Security and food stamps or give me death.” American politics have become the antithesis of what Patrick Henry and his generation of patriots fought and bled and died for.
We The People have allowed and enabled our government to stray so far from that original vision that it’s a wonder we even celebrate the Fourth of July anymore.
A declaration reflective of present-day America would tragically be one of perpetual and unrelenting dependence on government rather than independence and self-government.
Instead of preferring liberty to life itself, my countrymen can no longer envision life with liberty. Instead we now bicker endlessly over what color the bars and chains of our imprisonment will be, whether Red or Blue. Gone is the pure, spotless White of liberty and justice for all from the political discourse. To be genuine, we might just as well remove the White from our flag and have only the Red and Blue because we routinely scoff at true righteousness in today’s America so long as there’s some crooked bipartisan deal to strike.
What good is it to celebrate Independence Day in America when we keep making ourselves ever more the dependents of not only our own government but this faceless “global community” the Progressives of both the Republican and Democratic parties keep chaining us to? Surely King George III was less oppressive than we will find the combined wills of Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea.
Yet this is what globalism and godless Progressives in America have gradually reduced us to over the past hundred years. Our domestic policy is dictated by our foreign policy, and our foreign policy is cow-towing and hand-wringing to appease strongmen abroad even as we gut our military, poison our economy, and demoralize our countrymen at home.
Perhaps we’ve concluded now like the children of Israel led out of bondage in Egypt that we were better off serving Pharaoh as slaves than dying of thirst in the desert. At least the British spoke the same language and shared a common history and many of the same values as the colonists. What would we share with our new masters in the coming age of globalism except our humanity – unless, that is, our own values and history are first stripped from us by revisionists and relativists?
This is exactly what has happened and is happening as our ineffectual public education system focuses primarily on social engineering a compliant amoral global citizenry and only secondarily on teaching reading, writing, real history, math, philosophy, and critical thinking skills.
Your children and grandchildren won’t know who George Washington and Patrick Henry were – not really. Nor will they know what the Declaration of Independence meant, or why the words “give me liberty or give me death” were spoken and meant – not unless you take pains personally to educate them yourself, that is.
Why do we celebrate Independence Day when the majority of American parents glibly depend on the government to instruct their children?
Where is the safeguard for future generations against a tyrannical and oppressive government when the government is the one forming the minds of those future generations? It’s a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house.
Watch as the leaders of tomorrow are taught that the 2nd Amendment was written to safeguard hunting and sport shooting and home defense against burglars and that it had nothing to do with national defense against unelected dictators and overlords – a convenient view for aspiring would-be tyrants.
Watch as little Johnny and Susie are told from Kindergarten through 12th grade that the 1st Amendment was designed to eventually rid America of all traces that Christians ever lived and practiced their faith publicly in this nation, not to leave the establishment of religion to individual states.
Watch as your sons and daughters are taught that freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and other invasions of privacy doesn’t apply to your communications on the internet or cell phones because those things didn’t exist when the Bill of Rights was written and adopted in 1791.
Watch as the children of your community are taught that the United States Constitution is a living document that means whatever we want it to, including that they should be encouraged to experiment with one another sexually and then abort their babies without their own parents’ knowledge or consent.
Watch all of this perversion of the concept of individual liberty in impotent silence as you’re told you’ll become a pariah if you bite the bullet and educate your children at home instead of depending on the government to do it for you. Or else do interviews with your local newspaper or TV station, or get a motion on the ballot, or pass around a petition in your community, or write your Congressman, or run for office yourself – these are the things you must do in order to have a say in what your children are learning in the public schools from the ages of 5-18.
The community has decided to do what it considers best for itself, and individual liberty be damned. In order to inculcate its values in the coming generation, your children need to belong to that community first and foremost and to you as their parents only in the off-hours.
July 4th is the one day of the year on which we celebrate that Americans used to be a free and independent people.
This is the one day a year we remember that America used to value liberty and self-determination above all other virtues, and above even life itself. The other 364 days of the year the heirs of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” live in either unrelenting dependence on or fear of their government. We’re all constantly asking one of two questions:
What new thing might the government give us? Or else, what’s the next thing our government is going to take from us?
What new form of welfare will they devise next? Or, what new way will they tax us and intrude on our private, personal lives? Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms – what fundamental right will they undermine next in exchange for a made-up one they’ve just generously invented and decided to grant us? Whether we know it or not, we’re all just waiting for the next shoe to drop, the next manufactured crisis they’ll spin and exploit, the next thought they’ll tell us we must think or not think in the brave new world they’re creating by, for, and through us.
For a quick test of whether that’s all just an over-dramatic exaggeration, consider whether merely reading these words makes you nervous, not because I thought and said these things but for our government seeing that you read them and are now considering them too.
I’ll admit, my writing all of this causes me a certain discomfort. Though I’m writing on my own personal computer in the privacy of my own home, there’s no guarantee of privacy. Some NSA or FBI supercomputer is doubtless set up to flag certain keywords like Patriot, Liberty, Freedom, and Tyranny in real-time even as I’m typing them, and that supercomputer has sent up a red flag somewhere. Some unelected bureaucrat is sitting at his own computer in a nondescript cubicle some place. He’s reviewing the red flag raised by our government’s supercomputer, deciding whether he likes my religious and political beliefs or not, or whether he’s prepared to be held responsible for allowing me to share them. So maybe he decides to place me on a watch list. And maybe for the simple fact that you’re reading my article he’s putting you on that watch list too.
You and I both doubtless want to believe that’s all paranoia and unjustified conspiracy-theorizing, that all is well and there’s nothing to fear from our government. Yet we know for a fact that the technology exists which allows such things and more to be done to us by our government, and that our government has expressed and demonstrated a willingness to do such things regardless of their Constitutionality, and that most of We the People would likely stand by and let them do it for lacking the willpower and know-how to stop them.
America needs another Declaration of Independence.
That a pit would ever form in our stomachs and that we would ever even suspect the need for anxiety over such things as talking freely about the implications of the Fourth of July confirms in and of itself how far our Republic has fallen from the original lofty heights on which it was placed over two centuries ago. America needs another declaration of independence to throw off the amoral and foolish chains Progressivism has persuaded us to bind ourselves with over the past century. We have become a people increasingly dependent, frightened, incapable, and helpless. Yet all the same, the choice is ours whether we will allow this condition to continue or take personal responsibility and amend it ourselves.
We should cheer that the British people have come full-circle recently in declaring themselves free and independent from the European Union and its globalist, collectivist tendrils. Yet we should also resolve to not be content with such happening in far away Europe.
Today, the day after America’s 240th Independence Day, we need to make a decision whether to reclaim the mantle of liberty in our own country and become once again a free and self-governing people under God, or else to stop paying lip-service to the “bombs bursting in air” which tore through the bodies of dedicated patriots two centuries ago so their children could live and die free. It’s not enough to complain. We must make our voices heard and commit wholeheartedly to preserving our inalienable rights, and to either altering or abolishing our government until it resumes again its original function as a protector rather than trampler of those rights.
Either this or we should stop celebrating the Fourth of July.