…the Declaration says there is no divine right of kings, no absolute power of government. Instead, all rightful power in government derives only from the people. The Declaration makes it clear that we are born with these rights, which means that every person has equal rights. — Alfred S. Regnery
I am all decked out in my patriotic best (Hubby is not home, so sorry, no photos—and Ben is just all thumbs with the camera, you know), and as always on days such as this, very reflective.
I’d planned to write something separate for the blog, but am honestly satisfied with the essay-ette I posted on Flickr; thus it is being re-“printed” here with a couple of little bonuses (and more finely-tuned edits) for my faithful readers.
We have been given much in this nation. America is exceptional because we are also given the freedom to do what we wish with what we have, for good or ill. We are not told what to do by our leaders—indeed, we tell THEM what to do.
That is why America is so great; our founders were firm in their belief that there is, as Regnery writes, no divine right of kings after all, but a Divinely-given right for individuals to, as was so famously agreed on this day in 1776, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I suppose we could boil this down further: Possibility. Opportunity.
Mind you: This was an idea never before really put into practice in the western world.
Instead of fretting constantly over access to the basic needs of life and about whether or not we’re able to worship and even think as we please, Americans get to worry about thinks like producing such an abundance we can sell it at a profit to an eagerly waiting market (allowing we ourselves and our families to be independent of government
and of others, thereby enabling us to help those others who’ve failed or hit roadblocks regarding their own dreams—and in so doing, encouraging them to try again).
We get to worry about things like curing diseases that have ravaged populations since time began, about creating beautiful buildings that benefit even those who don’t own or work in them, about maybe trying something new that an ancestor couldn’t have done because a failure would have meant abject destitution, about even fighting for the freedom of other people when we are so roused.
Friends, we even joke about the ways we hold our representatives accountable, then (considering moral limits) do it—something countless peoples throughout history have been not merely afraid, but terrified to do. Some still are terrified to do such things, terrified to even speak ill of their leaders. Not us (mostly).
That is not standard. It was, in fact, unheard of throughout human history until the birth of America on a sweltering day in Philadelphia.
America is a miracle.
Not perfect—something no one has ever said, because all men are fallible—but a true miracle, a ridiculous anomaly in the annals of mankind.
Nor is everyone promised success—to do so in an atmosphere of freedom would be foolish, for freedom means not only the liberty to do as one wishes, but the liberty to fail and, it is hoped, learn from one’s mistakes, pick back up, and reach once more.
Freedom is wild and wooly, but that is part of the excitement of it. Men were created and born to be free, not enslaved—to another man, to a king, to a government.
Instead of merely dreaming about living better, being better, making the world better, Americans CAN do those things. Opportunity is waiting, able to be grasped by all, no matter how “low-born”. We are the ones behind the wheel, not a king or dictator or swarm of government agents! We are subordinate only to ourselves and our perceptions—both powerful things in and of themselves, more than enough for any individual to overcome—instead of force of arms or threat of retaliation.
That is what makes us great, that’s what makes us exceptional. Though these founding principles are every day being assaulted, twisted, denigrated, and abused, they’re still the truth, they’re still effective, and these principles are something ingrained into many of us from sea to shining sea.
Take advantage of that. It’s our birthright as Americans: Independence.
In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole: and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for.
…In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze. —Edmund Burke, March 22, 1775 (emphasis added)
Happy Independence Day!