The Greatest Experiment
We celebrate our Independence Day every July 4th. But here’s a little bit of history for you. We actually adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd. Then for two days, the founding fathers debated over the wording of the document and finally came to an agreement on July 4th. It wasn’t until August 2, 1776, the Declaration was signed. A few signed it after that, and even others would not sign what became our most sacred document.
“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.”
Today we take such words for granted, but at the time this was radical talk. Remember, over the course of world history people weren’t “free” in a sense we think of today. Rulers called the shots, and most of the time the government structure took the form of a monarchy. Not some paper tiger modern-day monarchy we may think of now. The rulers in those times (most of them) ruled with an iron fist. The common man had no right to proclaim they were entitled to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. In most cases, your destiny was determined by the family you were born into and couldn’t be changed. Some may argue not much has changed, but I respectfully differ.
What the founder’s proposed was nothing short of treason against King George III of England. A crime punishable by death. Remember, in the past Kings and Queens were ordained by God himself (So the people were told). You didn’t just ignore the will of God without dire consequences.
However, the founders threw off the bonds of the British monarchy when they declared:
“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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Our freedom, yours and mine, is due to the bravery of these radical men. And yes, at the time their way of thinking was considered radical. They didn’t always agree, in fact, often they passionately debated and challenged each other regarding what would become the United States. Yet, they persisted, worked together, and hammered out a form of government that would sustain an entire nation. (Our current crop of politicians - members on both sides - could learn something by studying history, learning from our founders) The ideas they proposed were considered crazy, fanatical, even suicidal. A great experiment that many expected to fail miserably.
But, freedom was worth the cost. Risking everything they owned, including their very lives, was a justifiable loss if it meant those men and their progeny could live in a free world. Talk about bravery in the face of uncertain odds.
How many of us would take those risks today?
Times have changed, at least here in the states. Most of us (myself included) have become complacent. As long as we have a roof over our head, good paying jobs, food to eat, the internet, and entertainment at our finger tips (ect ect ect) we are willing to settle for life as it is, instead of what it could be. America is still the greatest (governmental) experiment ever conducted, but it will only remain so if We The People stay vigilante. Freedom can be fleeting and can be snatched away just as quickly as it was gained.
Our foundering fathers gave us one of the greatest gifts we will ever receive … the precious gift of freedom. Let’s make a vow as a unified people not to squander that unique offering.
Happy Birthday, America.