Baseball, apple pie, and blowing your hand off with small explosives…
Happy 4th of July!
Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when 13 ornery colonies mailed a strongly worded eviction notice to the mother of all Kingdoms. It’s easy to forget that nearly half the filthy starving people in those 13 colonies were not quite keen on breaking up with England. “Tea tax? We’re risking our lives? No biggie, I’ll drink Folgers.” Imagine 2 million people picking a fight with 8 million people, and half of the 2 million just aren’t that into it. Different opinions are a side effect of Freedom.
The committee who wrote the Declaration of Independence included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Livingston refused to sign the document. He thought such a Declaration was premature. Different opinions are a side effect of Freedom.
Every hot dog chomping, beer chugging, firework lighting American knows July 4th is Independence Day. The day we celebrate that Declaration of Eviction Notice. Far rarer is the American who wheels out the barbecues and galore to celebrate U.S. Constitution Day. That day is September 17th for those scoring at home. Today I encourage you to find a small red, white, and blue moment to read that document; The U.S. Constitution. You will be rewarded.
It’s right here: US Constitution
We “the People” of the United States…
The United States Constitution begins with “The People” because the people who wrote it believed in ‘the people’. And they didn’t simply believe in the people of 1787, they believed in the people of 2019 as well. That includes you, me, and everyone else enjoying the Freedom that this document miraculously enshrined. The purpose of the United States Constitution is to limit the power of government, not to limit the power of people. The Constitution was written to restrain the government from interfering with your natural rights.
Indeed, the framers were so high on hope for the people, and trust in the people, they engineered a paper apparatus that enlisted the people to act simultaneously as its guardians and its benefactors. That balance has proven to be as resilient as it is genius. No other nation on earth has a document so revered, so well known, so enthusiastically adhered to. Drawing from Locke and Montesquieu and the Greeks, the framers crafted a blueprint for freedom to plant itself, water itself, and harvest itself for centuries to come.
But it wasn’t for everyone…at first.
When that Freedom ran aground, it found a Lincoln. When that Freedom was threatened by fascism, it found the Greatest Generation. That freedom spawned inventions such as the light bulb, electricity, the telephone, the airplane, the microwave, the television, the computer, the internet, it even put men on the moon. Nobody writing the Constitution in 1787 had any idea what advances they were spawning. They simply trusted that a free people would act in their own best interests, let the experiment commence. It grew into the Greatest Nation on earth.
These days being the Greatest Nation on earth is sort of like being the valedictorian of Traffic School. Imagine the earth’s countries as passengers on a subway ride. There’s some Kings, also a Queen, we have Military Generals, Executives, Parliaments, Monarchs, Ministers, an Ex-KGB man over there, here is Dictators row, and, where is the USA sitting?….oh that’s right, America is driving the train. (The Communists built their own train, they’ll arrive long after the rest of us.) The world is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Always has been. But this American system, planted on near virgin soil, has grown into something unique.
That’s not to suggest we’re pure by any means. Turns out the idea of “limited government” was rather limited. We’re entangled in so many rules and regulations now that we’ve become a gaggle of dancers in a minefield, each afraid to take one step out of line. The modern age has saddled us with restrictive tools of the trade; Devices such as phones and computers which operate under rigid rules, are fencing us in. Incrementally we are surrounding ourselves with barriers, trading a night out with friends for ‘virtual’ friends. Adopting screens while excommunicating the great outdoors. Trading freedom for security. Exchanging responsibility for clemency. Freedom cuts 320 million ways.
Freedom dies when nobody is left to fight for it. Liberty requires work, which is why it scares people. Freedom means responsibility. We’re finding all sort of ways to escape that relationship.
Our media would rather cash in on that car crash than help its victims. You will hear a constant daily drumbeat of “The Divide” in America, the left and right, the red and blue, as if we’re either Sharks or Jets with no space between. There are only two teams! As if freedom could ever be so simplified.
What we really are is 320 million different teams. We’re individuals, with individual thoughts, experiences, goals, and journeys. 320 million unique equations consisting of talents, gifts, handicaps, hardships, and evolutions. Every story is different. Every human has unknown potential. What we share is a spirit. The spirit of hope. The same American spirit the framers shared when they entrusted it to you. To us.
Trust Hope. Trust Freedom. Trust people. A bunch of fancy dudes in wigs and high heels did so, and the model worked. Whether it continues to work is up to us.